Risky Business: The Soviet Union Almost Sold a Submarine to a Drug Cartel

Risky Business: The Soviet Union Almost Sold a Submarine to a Drug Cartel

The Russian sub in question was a Foxtrot-class, which had been in service since the 1950s. At 300 feet long, the sub had space to spare for all the drugs the Cali Cartel could want… as well as ten torpedo tubes, in case things got dicey under the sea.

Undeterred, Tarzan offered one of the Russian’s $200 American, which was a significant sum in the mid-90s Russia. Money in hand, the Russian officer changed his tune, and even posed in pictures with the duo. Tarzan and Almeida had done their job, now they just needed Yester and his cartel connections to do theirs.

According to Tarzan and Yester, the Russians even offered to sell them a nuclear weapon.

Warning: This video contains graphic language.

Of course, things weren’t actually moving as smoothly as they may have seemed. Unbeknownst to Tarzan, he had been under federal surveillance for months. They had even managed to introduce a mole into Tarzan’s circle of friends and co-conspirators–and it was that mole who first spotted the pictures of Tarzan posing in front of a Russian sub, left out carelessly on his desk. That same mole even gifted Tarzan a phone he claimed had been jailbroken to allow for free international calls, so Tarzan wouldn’t have a paper trail reflecting his frequent contacts with Russian sources. Of course, the phone wasn’t jailbroken… it was bugged, resulting in thousands of hours of conversation for law enforcement to pour through.

That betrayal of Tarzan’s trust, however, wasn’t to be the last. Yester, who had told the Cali Cartel that they should pay for the submarine in bi-weekly payments of $10 million, also had plans of his own. When the first shipment of money arrived in Europe for Yester to funnel to Moscow… he simply didn’t. Instead, he hid the $10 million in a friend’s home and paid that friend $10,000 to make himself scarce.

Soon, the Cali Cartel was in Miami–looking for Yester and their money. Of course, Tarzan and Almeida had no idea. Their side of the deal was done and besides, Yester had a habit of uprooting frequently, never living in any one country for too long at a time.

Ultimately, Tarzan, Almeida, and Yester all managed to avoid doing any hard time for the submarine deal, though both Tarzan and Yester would ultimately find their ways into prison for other crimes down the road. Almeida was convicted of charges stemming from his dealings with the Cartel and Russians, based largely on Tarzan’s own testimony. However, Tarzan later recanted that testimony, resulting in Almeida going free.

Two years ago, Showtime premiered a documentary about the whole ordeal titled “Operation Odessa.” You can now watch it streaming on Netflix.

Alex Hollings is a writer, dad, and Marine veteran who specializes in foreign policy and defense technology analysis. He holds a master’s degree in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communications from Framingham State University.

This article first appeared on Sandboxx News.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.