DHS Project Nemo Overview

4_Bruno_20090629 -- Unclassified Project NEMO Overview v2DHS Science & Technology Directorate

  • Borders & Maritime Security Division
  • Dr. Scott M. Bolen
  • 12 pages
  • For Official Use Only
  • July 29, 2009


Capability Gap:The current capability gap is the inability to detect, persistently track, and evaluate non-cooperative, non-emitting vessels (particularly small boats less than 100 feet) in ocean areas extending past the port region, beyond-the-horizon. The United States of America

*Background:Self-Propelled Semi-Submersibles (SPSS) represent the emerging sophistication and innovation of drug traffickers to adapt to U.S. and regional counter drug capabilities.

•Vessels are designed and built by Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) in Colombia to smuggle large volumes of cocaine over long distances in a manner that is difficult to detect

•U.S. counterdrug officials estimate that SPSS are responsible for 32% of all cocaine movement in the transit zone

•Since the vessels have a low profile –the hulls only rise about a foot above the waterline –they are hard to see from a distance, leave little wake and produce a small radar signature

•U.S. Southern Command, the U.S. Coast Guard and regional officials consider SPSS a serious threat to U.S. and regional security*

Why SPSS’s?:

*The growing number of SPSS vessels indicates that their stealthy characteristics and ability to carry many tons ofcocaine have helped them develop into what now seems to be a major component of the narcotics logistics chain•

* Colombian Navy believes that during the past two to three years, cocaine smuggling SPSS vessels have been arranged mostly by the drug trafficking factions of the FARC, probably in association with organized crime groups also involved in drug trafficking •

**Profit margin:–1 Kg of cocaine is sold in the US for ~$20 to $25,000 USD ($30 to $35,000 USD in Europe)

–7000 Kg of cocaine can be carried in a SPSS –Money earned: 7000 x 25,000 = $175 million USD

–Captain gets paid $20 to $25,000 USD per trip, other crew gets $5 to $6,000 USD per trip; Total crew cost ~$40,000 USD

–$1 to $2 million invested to build and run a SPSS is ~2 to 3% of the whole profit made

It’s good business!


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