Uribe: Ecuador seized narco submarine thanks to Colombia

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Wednesday that Ecuador’s seizure of a drug trafficking submarine at a jungle shipyard in a border zone is thanks to information that Bogota authorities gave to Quito.

“Ecuador’s armed forces seized this submarine thanks to information from Colombia’s armed forces,” Uribe said in response to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s accusations that the presence of the Colombian state along the nations’ shared border is insufficient.

According to Uribe, the operation that led to the discovery and subsequent seizure of the narco-trafficking submarine “demonstrates that Colombia is not abandoning its border,” but “to the contrary it shows that we are cooperating, as it should be between countries.”

Correa complained Tuesday about the lack of Colombian presence along the border. “Let’s be clear. This absence of the Colombian state [means that] we have to do our job and that of Colombia too,” which costs “hundreds of millions of dollars annually, 20% of the members of the armed forces and 13% of the national police,” Correa said.

Ecuador’s vice minister for the interior, Edwin Jarrin, said that 9,000 members of the Ecuadorean armed forces had participated in the operation that led to the submarine’s seizure.

The camouflage-painted vessel seized by Ecuadorean police Friday is believed to be capable of long-range underwater operation and could be used to transport immense quantities of narcotics to the U.S. and Mexico.

The Ecuadoreans found the submarine at a sophisticated shipyard with living quarters for at least 50 people on a jungle estuary several miles from the Colombian border. It had yet to make a voyage.

Authorities are still investigating who financed the sub’s manufacture and which trafficking organization intended to use it. A number of illegal armed groups operate in the area, including the FARC.

Ecuador broke diplomatic relations with Colombia following a 2008 raid by the Colombian army on a FARC camp in Ecuadorean territory, which killed 26 people, including guerrilla leader “Raul Reyes.” Ecuador accused Colombia of violating its sovereignty. The two nations are working to repair their fractured relationship.

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