A custom-made submarine designed to be able to sink within minutes if desired was used by El Chapo to smuggle cocaine. Picture: Supplied
A custom-made submarine designed to be able to sink within minutes if desired was used by El Chapo to smuggle cocaine. Picture: Supplied

El Chapo’s cocaine submarine revealed

Jurors in drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's American trial have been shown footage of the first-ever US Coast Guard interception of a cocaine-packed submarine.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Todd Bagetis, who took part in the September 2008 seizure, said his crew had been patrolling international waters when they came across the semi-submersible, some 563 kilometres east of Guatemala, the New York Post reports.

Using night-vision goggles, his team boarded the submarine - where an irate crew immediately tried to sink the boat and throw the officers overboard.

"They put the vessel in (reverse) and tried to throw my crew off. My crew were hanging onto the exhaust pipe for dear life," Mr Bagetis said.

The dark footage shows a single head popping up from the hatch, and then water flooding the vessel. Mr Bagetis had earlier testified that the boats were designed to sink in as little as three to five minutes if desired.

Once they had detained the crew, Mr Bagetis said his team discovered 237 bales of cocaine - about 5896 kilograms.

Recaptured drug lord Joaquin
Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers in Mexico City, Mexico January 8, 2016. Picture: REUTERS

Unfortunately for Mr Bagetis, the packaging on one of the bales of cocaine tore, and he came into contact with the drugs as he helped unload the submarine.

"A couple of the bales were ripped," he said, "so we were exposed either through the molecules in the air or through skin contact."

The lieutenant commander added he'd also "bulged some diskc" in his back during the operation, and still receives injections every four months to deal with the injury.

Guzman is facing federal charges for importing and distributing cocaine, operating a continuing criminal enterprise, murder conspiracy and firearms possession.

Earlier in the week, Colombian cocaine kingpin Juan Carlos "Chupeta" Ramirez testified that he'd invented this kind of semi-submersible to more discreetly transport his cocaine into Mexico and the US.

Once the drugs arrived in Mexico, Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel allegedly hid the coke in oil tankers, shoeboxes and even cans of pickled jalapeño peppers to try and sneak them into the United States.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and has been republished with permission.

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