This is a photograph regarding the amendment we will talk about this morning. These are mini-submarines. They are currently being made in the jungles of Colombia, alongside much of the drugs that they carry, probably from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia which is the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party.
These vessels are made out of fiberglass. They are about 100-feet long. They carry a crew of five and up to 13 tons of drugs with a street value of about $300 million. They travel about 14 miles per hour, and they are barely below the surface. They are constructed to remain below the surface of the water, making them difficult for the U.S. Navy and the Coast Guard to track. And they can travel all of the way from the north coast of South America to the southeastern United States without refueling.
These vessels that the Coast Guard are encountering are stateless vessels with no legitimate use. They are built for stealth and the capability to rapidly scuttle the illicit drugs they are carrying.
What happens is when the United States Coast Guard or the Navy comes upon one of these vessels, the crew scuttles the ship, it sinks, and all of the contraband sinks to the bottom of the ocean. The only one prosecution that has taken place, reflected here on the bottom, occurred when a bale of cocaine floated back to the surface. The five crewmen are now being prosecuted in Tampa, Florida. And let me mention that these vessels can not only be used for drugs, they can bring explosives into the United States. They come up our waterways. They can attack crude ships, ships that are bringing in oil tankers, our military ships like the U.S.S. Cole, or even cruise ships, as we mentioned earlier.
This amendment would simply state the findings of Congress that these stateless vehicles have no legitimate use on international waters, and the crew that is operating one of these is committing a Federal crime.
Madam Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
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