SAN ANDRES ISLAND, Colombia — After the U.S. Coast Guard released dramatic video of the capture of a drug-smuggling semi-submersible in the Eastern Pacific, drug cartels have imposed a two-week safety stand down for traffickers to attend special “Don’t Open The Hatch!” training. The program is designed to provide seafaring narcos with common sense tactics on how to avoid getting caught and broadcast on YouTube and every media outlet in the known universe.
In the June 2019 incident, cartel members were carrying 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $569 million. The Coast Guard Cutter Munro tracked the vessel before launching two boats and an elite Coast Guard boarding team, who jumped onto the moving vessel and simply knocked on the hatch. The crew inside the semi-sub then opened the hatch like they were picking up a pizza and were promptly arrested.
When the video emerged, cartels saw this as an obvious result of improper training and poor judgement from their drug traffickers.
“We pride ourselves in organized and efficient drug traffic completion and this just was an overall embarrassing situation for the whole organization,” said Chief Drug Trafficker Manuel Diaz from the Jurubidá division. “I mean, our guys just opened the door. There had to be a discussion about whether they should zig-zag, maybe attempt to dive, or just not open the fucking hatch!”
The training program’s first lesson included a reenactment of the event. After the role playing, the instructor asked the inaugural class, “You hear a knock on the hatch, do you open it?” One student blurted out, “Sí!”
The instructor calmly replied, “No no no. That is incorrect. Let’s try again,” at which point the student mentioned that maybe it’s his mama with fresh arepas.
“You are in the middle of the ocean, Miguel,” the instructor replied. “Your mama is not in the middle of the ocean. I know it can get lonely when you’re spending months out at sea with no one to talk to.”
“But the person knocking on the hatch is not your friend!”
Coast Guard sources were as surprised as the cartel at the ease of access.
“We thought we would have to pry open the hatch or even have to abandon the vessel and wait until we had a bilateral agreement with the flag state,” said Maritime Enforcement Officer Bill Horvath. “But then they just … opened it.”
“And as my mom always used to say: ‘If a drug cartel member opens the hatch, you arrest that dumb bastard.’”