U.S. Navy and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials found a small “narco-submarine” with eight tons of cocaine and four people aboard off the coast of El Salvador on July 18.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the U.S. Coast Guard helped capture the vessel, which was located in international waters. U.S. Customs officials valued the haul of cocaine in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the Justice Department, the drug cartels’ use of such vessels to transport cocaine to Mexico for eventual transport to the United States dates back at least 9 years. The first vessel to be captured was found in 2006. The Justice Department asserted that at least 13 similar vessels have been captured since October 2008.
In April, a “narco-sub” was captured 500 miles off of Colombia’s coast, carrying two tons of cocaine.
In 2014, the Foreign Military Studies Office issued a comprehensive report dealing with “narco-subs,” and stated that 30% of the maritime flow of drugs into the United States used “narco-subs.” The report also noted that only one of four maritime craft smuggling drugs was being interdicted, adding, “Cocaine smuggling from the Andean region of South America to the United States generates yearly revenues in the high tens of billions of dollars.”