DHS sub­mersible to tackle drug car­tels


In the early 1990s, South Amer­i­can drug car­tels came up with a new tac­tic to trans­port nar­cotics des­tined for the United States: small, radar-dodg­ing, self-pro­pelled, semi-sub­mersibles (SPSSs); bet­ter to ad­dress the sub­mersible prob­lem, DHS Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Di­rec­torate cre­ated its own sub­mersible and called it Pluto, af­ter the planet which is dif­fi­cult to spot.

The erst­while planet Pluto was known for decades as a small, dark planet — hid­den, dif­fi­cult to spot, and on a quiet, de­ter­mined course all its own. So when the DHS Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Di­rec­torate (S&T) needed a tar­get semi-sub­mersible to de­tect the hid­den but de­ter­mined maritime smug­gling op­er­a­tions of the South Amer­i­can drug car­tels, it cre­ated its own ves­sel and called it Pluto, af­ter the planet which is so dif­fi­cult to spot.

S&T’s Pluto is a small, semi-sub­mersible which is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what are pop­u­larly called “narco subs,” and serves as a re­al­is­tic prac­tice tar­get for the de­tec­tion sys­tems of DHS and its na­tional se­cu­rity community part­ners.

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