Police in Spain have seized a nine-metre long "submarine" intended to smuggle up to two tonnes of drugs into the country.
The craft was seized last month in Malaga, police said on Friday, as part of an international drug operation carried out with five other countries and Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency.
Rafael Perez, head of the Spanish police, told reporters that the vessel had never sailed but that "it was going to go into the high seas to meet a mother ship (to) take on board the drugs."
"It is like an iceberg," he said of the vessel’s structure. "In practice, nearly all of it goes underwater apart from the top, which is the only part of it that would be seen from another ship or a helicopter."
Similar drug-smuggling vessels have in the past been discovered at sea, especially near Central and South America.
The operation, involving more than 300 officers from Colombia, Portugal, the Netherlands, the UK and the US, began last year.
Between April and December 2020, more than 2,900 kilogrammes of narcotics bound for Spain were seized in Colombia.
In successive operations carried out across Spain since the beginning of the year, police also seized a 15-metre fibreglass boat valued at more than €300,000, more than 400kgs of cocaine, 700kgs of hashish, €100,000 in cash, four luxury vehicles and multiple luxury watches. They also froze four bank accounts and seized a property.
A total of 52 people were also arrested, 30 of whom are being detained.