El Salvador Receives Speedboat to Strengthen Narcotrafficking Fight

El Salvador Receives Speedboat to Strengthen Narcotrafficking Fight

By Lorena Baires/Diálogo
August 12, 2020

The U.S. government donated a Boston Whaler speedboat to the Salvadoran Navy’s Trident Naval Task Force (FTNT, in Spanish) to strengthen border security and drug interception operations in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador said in a statement on June 18. The donation is worth $1.5 million and includes logistics and maintenance training.

“We use these units to fight narcotrafficking; they deliver excellent results in maritime interdiction operations,” Captain Exón Oswaldo Ascencio Albeño, head of the Salvadoran Navy General Staff, told Diálogo on July 13. “We received eight of them in previous years, and the FTNT uses them in our territorial sea.”

The FTNT began in 2015 as an elite counternarcotics force, “and over the years, it has forced narcotrafficking rings to travel out of the Salvadoran 200-mile territorial sea,” Salvadoran Navy Lieutenant Misael Vanegas, FTNT commander, told Diálogo on July 15.

“The Task Force consists of seamen and marines. Just before the pandemic started, in February, we had the opportunity to train with the U.S. Marine Corps at La Unión [department] Naval Base, and to do another training with the [U.S.] Military Group El Salvador to form leaders for small naval units,” Capt. Ascencio said. “The latter is aimed at officers and noncommissioned officers from Trident, and it helped prepare commanders of naval units to lead their crews during maritime interdiction operations.”

Since 2011, the U.S. government, through the Department of Defense and U.S. Southern Command, has been offering support to the Salvadoran government in the fight against narcotrafficking in the Central American region. Since then, the Department of Defense has donated 37-foot long Boston Whaler vessels, night vision equipment, J8 Jeeps, and Harris radios and communications equipment, the U.S. Embassy said.