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News | Aug. 24, 2023

AMO Detect Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible

By Public Affairs US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO)

WASHINGTON -- While conducting bilateral operations, an aircrew from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) spoiled cocaine smugglers’ best efforts to traffic nearly four metric tons of cocaine across open waters southwest of Mexico.

Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible vessel       

A Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible, or SPSS, is designed to be hard to detect by law enforcement.

Last month, a National Air Security Operations P-3 Long Range Tracker aircrew detected an 85-foot Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) which led to the arrest of five suspects and the seizure of over 8,200 pounds of cocaine.

“This is another great example of the collaborative work that goes on every day between AMO and our partners to keep illicit drugs from entering our country,” said Marshall Dillon, Director of Air and Marine Operations for the National Air Security Operations Center in Corpus Christi. “The P-3 Aircrew detected, tracked, and led the interdiction of this SPSS by one of our partners.  This seizure kept over $108 million in illicit proceeds from going to transnational criminal organizations.”

The crew of the Lockheed P-3 Orion Long Range Tracker aircraft was patrolling the waters southwest of Mexico. The AMO crew in conjunction with the Information Analysis Center, Joint Interagency Task Force South and other law enforcement partners detected the SPSS and monitored its movement. The crew then coordinated the subsequent interdiction of the vessel which resulted in 8,232 pounds of cocaine seized and the apprehension of five suspects.    

AMO has P-3 NASO Centers located in Jacksonville, FL and Corpus Christi, TX. P-3 aircrews operate throughout North, Central and South America in defense of the borders of the United States to prevent attempts to smuggle persons or contraband and are vital in partnership with U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) detection and monitoring operations. This partnership bolsters support to U.S. and international law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help identify, track and disrupt suspected illicit trafficking attempts.

In Fiscal Year 2022, AMO enforcement actions resulted in 967 arrests and 134,981 apprehensions of undocumented individuals, as well as the seizure or disruption of 250,616 pounds of cocaine, 1,475 pounds of fentanyl, 25,625 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,342 weapons, and $21.7 million.

For additional news releases and other AMO information, visit or follow AMO on Twitter at @CBPAMO.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.