Drug Trafficking Through Panama Has Increased - Stephenson
Friday, March 19 2010 @ 09:01 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Editor's Comment: If you would like to fully understand what has been happening to Panama in the past three to four years, please read this outstanding report. Here's an excerpt: "...there is no guarantee that Central America will continue to escape the wrath of Mexican drug traffickers. On the contrary, there is reason for concern that the region will increasingly become a battleground in the Mexican cartel war. For one thing, the Merida Initiative, a U.S. anti-drug aid program that will put some $300 million into Mexico and about $100 million into Central America over the next year, could be perceived as a meaningful threat to drug-trafficking operations. If Central American governments choose to step up counternarcotics operations, either at the request of the United States or in order to qualify for more Merida money, they risk disrupting existing smuggling operations to the extent that cartels begin to retaliate. Deaths related to drug trafficking in Panama jumped from 363 in 2006 to 808 last year because the Mexican drug cartels have taken over responsibility for moving the product North, once it leaves Colombia. Thus far these organized crime elements have remained focused only on their own people and problems. If they ever turn their wrath against the government of Panama, and start to do things like attack and kill government officials, then it will be a whole new ballgame. And, the amount of drugs transiting Panama has increased because traffickers have switched to a slower but safer land route strategy in recent years, mostly because sea and air routes have been effectively shut down or mitigated. They changed their strategy, and we are seeing the results on the ground.