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Author Topic: Drug Traffickers or Fishermen? 7757.7 kHz USB 1350 UTC 30 Oct 2017  (Read 880 times)

Offline R4002

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UNID 7757.7 kHz USB 7757.7 USB Spanish speakers
1350 UTC - tune-in time conversation was in progress
1450 UTC - returned to find frequency clear, unknown sign off time

**See below for log, scroll down past log for discussion**

Log:

Hearing at least three Spanish speaking stations coming in at various signal strengths this morning.  Strongest is pushing S9, while the weakest is at noise level.  Heard several Spanish curse words in rapid succession, followed by a long reply by the weakest station.  Reminds of the traffic often heard in the 6700-7000 kHz range or 43 meters.  This time they've above 40 meters and I haven't logged this frequency before.

"number 88" and other numerical strings (IDs?) heard at 1353 UTC.  "fucking 25 kilos" heard at 1354 UTC.  So these are either fishermen or drug traffickers.  Hiding in the 41 meter shortwave broadcast band, a practice that has been documented before by fishing fleets using empty areas of the 25 meter broadcast band for SSB communications.  Discussion about "paying the boss" at 1355 UTC.  Seems like there's two major stations and a third station.  Stronger station heard laughing and several mentions of "dog" 1355-1356 UTC.  Informal chatter, probably fishing fleets talking about catches?  I don't think narcotraffickers would be so obvious, but I could be wrong.  Several mentions of "the thing" and "the cargo" between 1356 and 1357 UTC.   

Interesting catch.  Lots of numbers being discussed.  "30 kilos" heard at 1358 UTC, then "35" right after that.  Lots of (Spanish) profanity.  Mention of "Fernando" at 1400 UTC, then talking about issues at "the house".  There is a much weaker SSB QSO in Spanish on 7756 USB that's causing minor QRM at times. 

Unfortunately I have to run out of the house for a little while....we'll see if the frequency is still active when I get back..should be back around 1420 or 1430 UTC...

....ended up returning at 1450 UTC to find 7757.7 kHz clear of any activity. 

Discussion:

I have extensively monitored the Spanish language traffic often referred to as "peskies" by the SWL community, specifically the pirate radio listening community, generally those operating in the frequency space below the 40 meter amateur radio band known as "43 meters" that consists of both the 6765 kHz to 7000 kHz fixed and mobile band (ITU allocation).  Many listeners further define it as 6800-7000 kHz or thereabouts.  Above 40 meters (7000-7300 kHz) lies the 41 meter shortwave broadcasting band 7300-7450 kHz, of course many broadcasters operate within 40 meters and above the 7450 kHz band limit.  From 7300 kHz to 8195 kHz (the 7300-7450 kHz section behind shared with broadcasting) is another fixed and mobile band (just like 6765-7000 kHz).   Many of these transmissions are simply freebanders, especially those heard on or around 6900 kHz.  There are also several different legal users of the 6765-7000 kHz band in South America, including several radiotelephone systems and similar fixed voice link systems. 

On top of this, I have also monitored Spanish language communications within or near the 25 meter shortwave broadcasting band on frequencies including 11607 kHz USB and 11802 kHz USB.  Other listeners have monitored Spanish language traffic out of South America on 10 MHz and 11 MHz.  I have also monitored Spanish speaking traffic on fixed/mobile and aeronautical mobile frequencies including 10030 kHz USB, 10272 kHz USB, 10465 kHz USB, 10698 kHz USB, and 11342.5 kHz USB. 

So what does this have to do with the logging of traffic on 7757.7 USB? The practice of "hiding" two-way HF-SSB traffic within unconventional bands (often to the point of interfering with important communications!) is extremely common.  Another thing to notice here is the frequency itself.  7757.7 kHz.  Easy to remember.  Most marine-duty, heavy-duty HF and commercial/military MF/HF SSB radios have displays that indicate one digit past the decimal point.  The use of easy to remember frequencies is also extremely common.  There are dozens and dozens of examples that have been logged in the 6-7 MHz range, including 6868 kHz, 6777.7 kHz, 6888.8 kHz, etc.  Repeating digits and alternating digits are both extremely popular. 

This log checks all those boxes.  Its within an unconventional band, it was "hiding" between two strong SWBC signals, and its an easy-to-remember frequency.  My Spanish skills aren't perfect.  But I understand most of what is being said.  This QSO featured very heavy use of Spanish curse words, I have omitted most of the translations in the log but the "fucking 25 kilos" part stuck out at me.  Could this be a fishing boat captain complaining to another that he had a bad catch?  Certainly.  Could it be somebody talking about 25 kilos of another famous South American export?  Certainly.  "Number 88" was also mentioned, I think as some sort of identifier.  The common names of Fernando and Juanito were also heard.  "Juanito" means "Little John" in English, and is often used as a term of endearment for somebody named Juan/John.  A mention of "30 kilos" was also logged, and then "35" after that.  Several other two-digit numbers heard, but none of them had any sort of indication that they were also references to the weight/amount of something.  Unfortunately, I could only hear one of the stations really well.  I could tell there was another station responding to the stronger of the two, often for several minutes at a time, but could not make out what was being said due to the fact that the weak station was right at the noise level. 

The fact that these transmissions were monitored on a so-called "cute" (easy to remember) frequency and the use of the word "cambio" (which roughly means "over" or "back to you") at the end of the transmission are suspect.  It's possible that there are dozens of these frequencies laid out on a list for the operators to reference by a two-digit identifier.  Maybe "number 88" is actually 7757.7 kHz.  The operators could have a set schedule of frequency changes to make at certain times as part of electronic countermeasures (something drug traffickers are known to do).  Fishing fleets have less of a motivation to do this, especially for idle banter.  Further blurring the lines between fishery radio and drug traffickers using HF is the known fact that many cocaine shipments from South America are brought via fishing boat, either packed on the boat itself, or via use of a towed "narcotorpedo" or as part of communications with and/or about a narcosubmarine.  Fishing crews are often used for these purposes.  It's well-documented that these vessels are equipped with open-banded HF-SSB radio equipment for long-haul communications back to their base, and for communications with the fishing boats that meet up with them for mid-ocean transfers.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2017, 1523 UTC by R4002 »
U.S. East Coast, various HF/VHF/UHF radios/scanners/receivers

Offline Rizla

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Re: Drug Traffickers or Fishermen? 7757.7 kHz USB 1350 UTC 30 Oct 2017
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2017, 0128 UTC »
Really enjoying your posts and observations. I first heard "kilos" mentioned on a Peskie broadcast back in the early 90's. I have no idea what they meant or mean but of course hiding  "general cargo" in fishing boats is as old as the black market (and fishing, I'm sure). It's interesting to monitor these conversations as my Spanish becomes slightly competent. Haven't heard peskies here yet but will be monitoring. Thanks for the logs!
QTH: Sonoran Desert, AZ. Kenwood TS-820S, FT-891, Tecsun 880, neophyte in a forest of antenna wire.

Offline R4002

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Re: Drug Traffickers or Fishermen? 7757.7 kHz USB 1350 UTC 30 Oct 2017
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2017, 1550 UTC »
My pleasure, I'm glad you enjoy the logs!  I like to think of listening to the "peskie" traffic as a way to practice my Spanish in some ways.  I've actually had QSOs with them on 69xx kHz frequencies, including talking to a land-based station that IDed itself as being in Venezuela on 6980 kHz USB.  I generally focus on the area below 40 meters, specifically 6765-7000 kHz (as my primary targets are pirate broadcasters).....so coming across these guys on 7757.7 kHz was partially blind luck. 

Your location is likely ideal for hearing south of the border transmissions, and for hearing stuff coming out of South America when the band goes long.
U.S. East Coast, various HF/VHF/UHF radios/scanners/receivers

Offline Rizla

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Re: Drug Traffickers or Fishermen? 7757.7 kHz USB 1350 UTC 30 Oct 2017
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 0110 UTC »
Haha, that is true, when I hear them they are usually _loud_.

Hey, good on you for actually QSO-ing with these guys, I've never heard of anyone doing that. The lack of any analysis of what the "peskies" talk about in Spanish has always bothered me, so like you (?) I decided to learn some myself. Of course, a lot of the time the guys are drunk (?), and it seems totally meaningless, they start singing... Nevertheless, the world of Senor Mister Shrimps on the radio is always interesting to ponder.

Been listening to these guys since the late 80's.  The BBC can come and go, but the Pescado guys and the numbers stations and the pirates are here to stay, and will probably increase, I think, don't you? You want Omerta, you got Omerta.... who in general public listens to SW? Very few? It's a decent cover...

Hope to have some pescado logs soon, tis the season!
QTH: Sonoran Desert, AZ. Kenwood TS-820S, FT-891, Tecsun 880, neophyte in a forest of antenna wire.

Offline R4002

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Re: Drug Traffickers or Fishermen? 7757.7 kHz USB 1350 UTC 30 Oct 2017
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2017, 1337 UTC »
I wanted to follow up this thread with the fact that I logged similar traffic between 1300 UTC and 1335 UTC on 7557 kHz USB and 7600.6 USB today (December 3rd, 2017).  Considering the fact that this original log was made at 1350 UTC...and given the obvious similarity in the frequencies...
U.S. East Coast, various HF/VHF/UHF radios/scanners/receivers