It was two-for-one day in the international water of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of El Salvador — not one but two narco subs were captured carrying 4,156 kilos of cocaine.
The Mob Reporter here with news of the historic high seas capture that has an estimated street value of $104-million U.S. dollars, which is one of the country’s official currencies. Or, in the country’s other official legal tender — worth 2,050 Bitcoin. That’s right, Bitcoin is an official currency in El Salvador, the brainchild of its energetic and controversial president, who revealed the details of his navy’s capture of the narco subs on New Year’s Eve.
The narcos’ boats were low profile vessels, often called LPVs — they’re semi-submersibles that travel low in the water to avoid detection. Long, slender, and sleek, they look like old submarines when cutting through the water. The boat that caught them has a story of its own — the Salvadoran sailors were using a speedboat that had been seized just a few weeks before — from other cocaine smugglers.
The capture of both narco subs was achieved by just four sailors. The first narco sub was stopped at 1 a.m. While two soldiers stayed behind to guard the load and the three crew, the remaining two soldiers caught up to the second, at 3:30 a.m. The second sub had a crew of four.
The presentation of the operation was done with bravado, which is in keeping with the flash and brash style of El Salvador’s 40-year-old president, Nayib Bukele. Bukele’s Twitter bio once read “World’s coolest dictator,” but now reads “CEO of El Salvador.” With his fondness for leather jackets and backwards ball caps, he can come across as more Bitcoin bro than national president.
Bukele has been hammering home a tough on crime message since his election in 2019. He made his biggest international splash, though, for a different national policy, one that took effect this past September, when he added a second official currency — Bitcoin — as legal tender in the country. It made El Salvador the first country to make a cryptocurrency official legal tender, alongside its other official currency, the U.S. dollar.