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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 12:39 PM EDT

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Water Produced In Chitre and La Villa Purification Plant Not Fit For Consumption

HealthcareThe Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN for its acronym in Spanish) announces to its customers and users in the provinces of Herrera and Los Santos, that the water produced in our treatment plants Chitre and La Villa is UNFIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION due to pollution in the Villa River as a result of the presence in the liquid of a chemical that affects water quality.

IDAAN, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health (MINSA for its acronym in Spanish) in both provinces, took the decision to declare water as unfit for consumption after they received reports on June 30, of the tests conducted by the Public Ministry about the presence of a herbicide dissolved in water.

The affected areas are: Chitre, Monagrillo, La Arena, La Villa de Los Santos, Santa Ana, Llano Largo, El Bongo, Los Olivos, Guararé, La Enea, El Jobo, Las Tablas, El Cocal and El Carate. (Source: IDAAN Press Release)

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US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez Has Been Charged With "Unpremeditated Murder" of Panamanian Woman

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez-Pagan has been charged with "unpremeditated murder" under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) this afternoon.

MSG Velez-Pagan remains in military pre-confinement in North Carolina, pending the date of a pretrial hearing.

U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) continues its investigation of this case in conjunction with the government of Panama.

A statement issued today by Kim Hanson of the Public & Congressional Affairs at the Headquarters of the US Army Material Command says "We give our assurances to the Government and people of Panama that U.S. military authorities will fully investigate this incident and take appropriate action."

Editor's Comment: OK, first things first. Velez was charged under Article 118 of the UCMJ - murder. It's very important to point out that he was not charged under Article 119 which is manslaughter. Specifically, Article 118 (1) deals with premeditated murder, and apparently the conditions indicated Velez didn't have a "premeditated design to kill." In other words, Velez didn't plot or plan to kill his girlfriend.

Rather, Velez was charged under Article 118 (2) - which deals with unpremeditated murder. The following elements should exist for the accused to be charged in this way;

  • (2) Intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm.
    • (a) That a certain named or described person is dead;

    • (b) That the death resulted from the act or omission of the accused;

    • (c) That the killing was unlawful; and

    • (d) That, at the time of the killing, the accused had the intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm upon a person.

Head's up, I'm going to speculate somewhat here. Velez is together with his girlfriend. They get into a fight. He punches her in the face - either once or several times. She dies as a result of the injuries inflicted by Velez. If that's the way it went down, then Velez is guilty of "unpremeditated murder" under Article 118 (2) of the UCMJ. He didn't plan on killing his girlfriend, but that's what happened anyway, because he intended to "inflict great bodily harm" when he punched her in the face.

Remember this first article I published last Wednesday - US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez - Prime Suspect In Murder Of Panamanian Woman - said "The Panamanian woman, nicknamed "La chiricana", had multiple lesions on her anatomy, especially in the face, ranging from beatings to lacerations." So there's a pretty good chance that the potential speculative scenario described above is exactly what happened.

It should also be pointed out that Velez is not being held on Ft. Bragg. He's being held in the County Jail, run by the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. And although the US Material Command press release says Velez was charged today, the online record available through the Cumberland Detention Center Active Inmate Search system still lists "military hold" under the "charge" section on their database. I'm sure that will be updated soon.

In Panama, there's a tangible concern that the US government will make some sort of effort to cover up, protect, or not fully prosecute Velez for the murder of Vanesa Rodriguez. The US Embassy and SOUTHCOM should make a concerted effort to point out what most Americans consider to be obvious and unnecessary. Things are different in the US. In Panama, people are fully accustomed to seeing no justice whatsoever. The rich and powerful regularly and routinely get away with just about everything. There needs to be a conversation, reinforcing the message that in the US, there is a functioning justice system which is much better at prosecuting, convicting, and punishing criminals. Basically - don't worry. If the evidence indicates Velez is guilty, then chances are the system will work, and he will spend the rest of his life behind bars at Ft. Leavenworth.

Mugshot - US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez has been charged with murder, in the death of his girlfriend, Vanesa Rodriguez, 25, of Panama. Velez was returned to the United States and arrested on 26 June 2014.

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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Mugshot - US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez has been arrested by the Sheriff's Office of Cumberland County in North Carolina in the United States. He was returned to the US from Panama as a suspect in the murder of the 25 year old Panamanian woman Vanesa Rodriguez.

According to a spokesman speaking for the US Material Command, upon his return to the US the evidence against him was reviewed by a Military Magistrate (judge), who determined there was enough to warrant his continued detention.

Omar Antonio Velez, 35, was arrested last Thursday, June 26, 2014. There is a file on his arrest available on the website of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department. In the section of the form under "charges" - Velez's status is listed as "military hold." Booking ID: 172833. This is his mugshot:

US Army Detectives assigned to the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) have almost certainly been deployed to the Republic of Panama to gather additional information and evidence, as part of the investigation into the murder. Once that process has been at least partially completed, then the US military authorities on Ft Bragg will formally charge Omar Velez, and the legal proceedings against him will commence.

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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U.S. soldier suspected of murder in Panama likely to face military justice

Expat Tales PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier suspected of murdering a Panamanian woman will "most likely" face charges in a military court in the United States, a U.S. military spokesman said on Sunday.

Master Sergeant Omar Velez is being held in pretrial confinement at the U.S. Army's Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but formal charges have not been filed against him, said Colonel William Bigelow, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command.

Velez was conducting training in Panama as part of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization, a unit generally associated with foreign sales of military equipment, Bigelow said by telephone.

He said Velez will probably face charges in U.S. military courts. He emphasized that a final decision has not been made.

Panama's attorney general's office has not commented on the case.

Panamanian daily newspaper Critica has reported that Velez was apprehended as he was attempting to bury the body of the 26-year-old victim, with whom he was believed to have a romantic relationship.

The U.S. Southern Command cannot confirm those details, spokeswoman Kimberly Hanson said.

The U.S. Army "will fully investigate this tragedy and take any and all appropriate action," according to a statement issued late last week.

Editor's Comment: Finally. With this report the US military has confirmed the identity of MSG Omar Velez as the suspect in the murder of the 25 year old Panamanian woman Vanesa Rodriguez. Is should be pointed out that the Panamanian press is reporting Vanesa's age as 25, while this Reuters report is saying she's 26.

And yes, military members on active duty who commit crimes such as murder always face a jury trial under the Unified Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). It's nice to see that Reuters is following my lead on this story.

Reuters should now ask the US Military and SOUTHCOM if they have this photo of Vanesa Rodriguez holding a military issued firearm, on the training range near the Guarare river where Omar Velez was training members of the Panamanian police and security forces;

At the time of his arrest, MSG Omar Velez was reportedly caught red-handed, standing over the corpse of his dead girlfriend, next to a freshly dug grave, the shovel and pickaxe he used to dig the grave, and a bag of lime he was going to dump on her body to speed decomposition. All of this was found near the shooting range where this photo was taken.

One more minor observation. When SOUTHCOM issued this press release over the weekend in response to the murder of Vanesa Rodriguez and the arrest of Omar Velez, the first sentence of the original version said "The United States expresses its deepest regret over the death of a young Panamanian woman." This was later changed to read "The United States Army expresses its deepest regret over the death of a young Panamanian woman." They made the change because the Commander in Chief of the US Southern Command cannot speak for the United States of America - that's what the President is for.

But, there's a problem. The Commander in Chief of the US Southern Command also cannot speak for the US Army. General Raymond T. Odierno is the Chief of Staff of the US Army, and only he can speak on behalf of, or "express its deepest regret."

General John F. Kelly, a member of the US Marine Corps and the Commander in Chief of the US Southern Command can only speak for SOUTHCOM - not the US Army or the United States of America. This is what happens when military gonks issue press releases over the weekend, when the adults - civilian employees with deep experience and lawyers - are taking a day off to roast hot dogs or whatever.

Now, I don't expect SOUTHCOM will issue yet another correction to fix this gaff. And, it's sort of depressing that I had to be the one to point it out. Aren't the lights on there, somewhere? Hello, Public Affairs Branch? Anyone manning the desk (with a clue)?

But whatever. At least now someone in the US government has finally and officially admitted that US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez is in fact, in custody as a suspect in the murder of Vanesa Rodriguez in Panama. This confirms the earlier reporting by La Critica as spot-on.

Don't fuck this up, guys. If this asshole murdered his girlfriend, there's no need whatsoever to "protect" him from anything. There are more than 50,000 people living in the Republic of Panama as members of the English speaking community of expatriates. Many of them are former military veterans, and military retirees. If there is any perception - and I mean any little tiny perception whatsoever - that the US government or the US military is going to anything to cover this incident, you can expect blow-back. There should be no effort whatsoever to protect this Velez guy beyond whatever is strictly required by law. He is entitled to a legal defense from a defense attorney, but he is not entitled to any sort of defense of his name (or whatever) by the Government of the United States of America.

In short - Omar Velez should be treated exactly the same as anyone else who has been accused of murder.

One more question. Why hasn't he been charged? What's the time frame? How long can the US military hold Velez as a detainee, without charging him with a crime?

From experience in murder cases, I know there are procedural elements regarding evidence. I'm sure the FBI Special Agents working at the office of the Legal Attache in the US Embassy in Panama are doing their thing. Also, there will be someone (not sure who) in a US military uniform who will be responsible investigating and gathering evidence - with the cooperation of the Panamanian judicial authorities - in order to eventually charge MSG Omar Velez with murder and conduct a trial.

There are many elements of this story that are unfolding as I write this. I'll continue to provide follow-up information as it develops. And of course, I'm working my own angles...

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US Southern Command Issues Press Release (US Army MSG Omar Velez - Murder Suspect - Panama Case)

Expat Tales An Army soldier assigned to the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is under military custody on suspicion of being responsible for the death of a young Panamanian woman, whose body was found near a shooting range used for training.

The Southern Command issued a press release expressing "sincere regret" over the woman's death. SOUTHCOM is cooperating with the Panamanian judicial and law enforcement authorities in the investigation of the case. They call for "this tragedy to be fully investigated" and the US military promises to take "all corresponding actions" resulting from the investigation.

"We are cooperating with Panamanian law enforcement authorities in the investigation, and we want to assure the government and the Panamanian people that the U.S. military authorities will thoroughly investigate this tragedy and take all appropriate action," says the press release that was published on the Southern Command's website.

Last Thursday, the office of the Attorney General issued a press release reporting that on 23 June "the lifeless body of a woman was discovered, on a farm near the bridge over the Guararé river, where firearms training was taking place."

The site of the discovery is located in the province of Los Santos, 284 kilometers west of Panama City.  

The victim was identified by relatives as Vanesa Rodriguez, 25, a native of the western province of Chiriqui and a resident of Panama City.

"A member of the U.S. Army, who is now in custody at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA, is a suspect in this case," says the Southern Command statement. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Why the FUCK is everyone tip-toeing around using the name of US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez as the suspect in this case? When the Panamanian National Police first arrested him - while standing over the body of his dead girlfriend next to a bag of lime, a shovel, a pickaxe, and a freshly dug grave - they released his name as the person who was arrested, and identified him as the suspect in the case.

Since then, the Panamanian Attorney General's office issued a statement clarifying for the Panamanian people and the family members of the victim that the suspect (Velez) was working for the US Embassy at the time, so therefore he could not be arrested. No sweat, he was arrested by the US Army, flown back to Ft Bragg, and he's now in custody there. Great.

The US Southern Command finally issued a press release designed to further reduce anxiety over the concept that Velez might not face justice. And of course to express their regret and remorse. Note - that this statement was issued only after I pointed out that the US government and the US Embassy in Panama had remained silent (until then). Whatever, they finally have started to to the right thing, and communicate a little.

But still it makes no sense to try to protect - what - Omar Velez's privacy? When a murder suspect is arrested in the United States does any prosecutor anywhere try to protect his name? Don't they stand up in front of the media and proclaim to the world they've arrested a suspect in the brutal murder case of (whatever)? It makes no sense. I don't get it. In short, WTF?

Speaking as a retired Master Sergeant myself - military guys simply hate it when "one of their own" makes some really stupid decision and does something criminal - whatever it is. I've had friends of mine go down in legal flames for making some bone headed mistakes while serving in the military. But serving in the military is all about levels of trust, personal responsibility, emotional maturity, and making the right decision in the heat of the moment. This guy apparently blew it. And while that's too damn bad (for both him and his victim) it makes no sense for anyone, on any side, to try to "protect" his identity, or to keep his name out of the papers. In short, fuck that guy...

Most civilians don't understand that military members are held to a higher standard. MSG Omar Velez will be held accountable under the US Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). There's an obvious reason for this. If a civilian doesn't show up for his job at Walmart, he's fired. If a military member doesn't show up for his job, that's desertion. A civilian can't get sent to prison for falling asleep on the job, but a soldier can go to prison for falling asleep while manning a forward observation post in a war zone. Things are different for military guys, in many ways.

But murder is murder. Guys in the military are trained to kill. We have guns. We usually have physical superiority over civilians due to strength training and regularly scheduled exercise. We are trained in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts. Military guys have a "keep hitting it until it's gone" mentality sometimes. And when a military guy kills a hostile in a war zone, he gets a medal. We are trained to be lethal, and we are expected to know when to pull the trigger (and of course, when not to...)

Refer to the UCMJ Article 118: Murder - Any person subject to this chapter who, without justification or excuse, unlawfully kills a human being, when he- (1) has a premeditated design to kill; (2) intends to kill or inflict great bodily harm; (3) is engaged in an act which is inherently dangerous to another and evinces a wanton disregard of human life; or (4) is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of burglary, sodomy, rape, robbery, or aggravated arson; is guilty of murder, and shall suffer such punishment as a court-martial may direct, except that if found guilty under clause (1) or (4), he shall suffer death or imprisonment for life as a court-martial may direct.

And Article 119: Manslaughter - (a) Any person subject to this chapter who, with an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation is guilty of voluntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. (b) Any person subject to this chapter who, without an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being- (1) by culpable negligence; or (2) while perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate an offense, other than those named in clause (4) of section 918 of this title (article 118), directly affecting the person; is guilty of involuntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

MSG Omar Velez will probably say he got into an argument with his girlfriend, got mad, hit her in the face, and she died. If there was no intent to kill her then that's manslaughter. The key words being "in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation."

But still, why dance around the identity of the suspect? What wasn't his name included in this Southcom press release? Do they have the photo the victim posted on her Facebook page, of her handling a weapon on the same range where MSG Omar Velez was training Panamanians how to shoot? You know, the same place where he was digging her grave?

You won't find me dancing around this asshole, trying to protect anything. If it turns out the victim is someone else, then so be it. As of right now, the Panamanian National Police released his name as being the suspect. Until I hear otherwise, it's on him. Everything else that's flowed since has been in sync with the initial assessment, so I have to assume it's correct. And I also have to assume the US Army, the US government, SOUTHCOM, and everyone else is - for some unknown reason - trying to protect something by not uttering the name of Master Sergeant Omar Velez. Thankfully, I do not drink from the same pitcher of kool-aid as those idiots...

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Panama's Reservoirs Still Not Reaching Optimum Levels

WeatherThe daily flow of water from the lakes of the country's main hydroelectric dams shows they are still not reaching the optimal water levels required to produce electrical energy. (more)

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Murder Victim Identified As Vanesa Rodriguez (US Army MSG Omar Velez's Girlfriend in Panama)

Expat TalesTo the sorrow of her friends and family, the body found dead on the banks of the Guararé river in the province of Los Santos, responds to that of Vanesa Rodriguez, who was 25 years old. (more)

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Student Pilot Unhurt But Plane Destroyed After Crash in Chame

Safety & SecuritySeveral citizens and witnesses reported via Twitter, on the crash and explosion of a small plane on Friday morning at the El Celaje airfield in Chame. (more)

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Minera Panama vs. Workers - Panamanian Government Remains Silent

Gold & MiningFaced with the uncertainties express by a thousand mine workers, Panama's Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI) and the Minister of Labor (MITRADEL) have remained silent after the closing of the Minera Panama copper project the company is developing in Donoso, in the province of Colon. (more)

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Panama judge acquits N. Korean crew over arms row

Panama NewsA Panamanian judge acquitted and ordered the immediate release Friday of three North Koreans detained last year for trying to transport undeclared Cuban weapons through the Panama Canal.

The North Korean freighter Chong Chon Gang was stopped last July and discovered to be carrying 25 containers of Cuban military hardware, including two Soviet-era MiG-21 aircraft, air defense systems, missiles and command and control vehicles.

The ship's 35 crewmembers were arrested and the vessel and cargo seized for potential violations of a UN weapons embargo and as a threat to the canal's security.

Panama initially released all crewmembers except three senior officers charged with arms trafficking.

On Friday, Judge Carlos Villarrea finally acquitted and freed that last group, named as Ri Yong Il, Hong Yong Hyon and Kim Yong Gol. He also acquitted the other 32 crewmembers.

Villarreal's decision was based on the fact that the incident "was of international character and outside Panamanian jurisdiction," a court statement said.

Panama only had the right to convene the United Nations Security Council to allow the body to issue its own ruling on the weapons cache found, the judge said.

Additionally, the crewmembers could not be held responsible because "they were executing and obeying direct orders from the state of North Korea," he said.

Villarreal ordered the return of the more than 200,000 sacks of sugar that had been used to conceal the undeclared weapons cargo, but did not release the confiscated arms, saying the rightful owner had yet to be proven.

"The law was applied and this judge will be remembered for being brave and daring to liberate North Koreans despite internal and external pressures against the accused," the sailors' lawyer Julio Berrios told AFP.

"If all goes well, they will be leaving the country at the end of next week via Havana, Moscow and Beijing."

Both Havana and Pyongyang said the weapons were obsolete Cuban arms being shipped to North Korea for refurbishment under a legitimate contract and due to be returned to Cuba.

But neither country explained why the shipment was hidden if it was indeed legitimate.

Panama asked the United Nations to send a mission to determine if the attempted shipment violated a UN embargo on arms deliveries to North Korea.

Panama authorities said in April that a UN team's report confirms that the cargo violated the embargo. (AFP)

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Foreign Diplomat (US Army MSG Omar Velez) Suspected Of Murder

Expat TalesThe prosecutor in the province of Los Santos said a "foreign diplomat" was involved in the murder of a woman whose body was found on Monday, June 23, 2014 on a farm near the Guararé river. (more)

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Magda Maxwell Jumps Ship - Will Also Work For Varela

Panama NewsThe new administration of president-elect Juan Carlos Varela is sweeping up all of TVN's journalists. Now we learn the newscaster Magda Maxwell is also leaving in order to join the Varela team. (more)

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Hearing Today in Italy For International Corruption in Panama

CorruptionThe trial for international corruption in Panama over the alleged payment of bribes for contracts with Finmeccanica against Valter Lavitola will be held today in Italy. (more)

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Deputy Marcos Gonzalez Denies Owning Pirate Buses

Cars & TransportationThe National Assembly Deputy from the Democratic Change political party, Marcos Gonzalez, said on Friday he is not the owner of a "pirate" bus business, as he has been accused in the news media. (more)

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Authorities Seize More Than 228 Kilos of Cocaine

Drug TraffickingNational Police officers seized more than 228 kilos of cocaine, discovered in a van located in the Costa Sur along the Southern Corridor, in Juan Diaz. (more)

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A Quarter Of Western Panama Suffers From Water Shortages

Infrastructure UpgradesThe lack of a continuous supply of potable water in the Western part of the Province of Panama is of great importance. Almost a quarter of its population do not receive the service from IDAAN, in part, due to the lack of contracts, the low efficiency of the service, and the custom of obtaining drinking water from natural sources, many of them unhealthy. (more)

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Franklin Oduber Could Be Guilty Of Corruption (Ya' Think?)

CorruptionThe overflights made by government officials from the National Authority of Land Management (Anati) to photograph from the air properties owned by the political opponents of president Ricardo Martinelli in December 2013 will be investigated, starting on 2 July 2014, by one of Panama's Anti Corruption Prosecutors, revealed yesterday the Attorney General Ana Belfon. (more)

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First Quantum Minerals unit suspends copper project in Panama

Gold & Mining(Reuters) - Minera Panama, a subsidiary of Canada's First Quantum Minerals Ltd, said on Thursday it has shut down until further notice a $6.4 billion copper project in the country, citing labor disruptions.

Opposition to a new work schedule sought by Minera Panama during the project's construction phase sparked the conflict, the company said in a statement.

Since Sunday, nearby highways have been blocked by defiant workers as others have engaged in what Minera Panama describes as illegal work stoppages.

"The decision to close the site has been difficult and unfortunate," the company said in a statement, adding that boosting the project's efficiency is "absolutely necessary."

The company said workers are being evacuated and will be paid through June 28. It did not say when construction will resume, but added that it was "committed to the long-term success of the project."

Located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of the capital near the Caribbean coast, the project would aim to produce about 320,000 tonnes of copper, 100,000 ounces of gold and 1.8 million ounces of silver a year, the company's website said.

Shares of First Quantum Minerals rose 1.9 percent on Thursday to close at C$22.51 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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Harris man, last seen in Panama, declared dead

Expat TalesBy Derrick Knutson - Bob Ehlert, of Harris, who is known to many in the county because of his involvement with the University of Minnesota Extension as a Chisago County Master Gardener, has been declared officially dead by the U.S. government.

Ehlert was last seen more than a year ago in Panama.

According to a story the Post Review printed on the search for Ehlert last year:

Doug Ehlert, Bob Ehlert’s nephew, said the family and authorities discovered numerous oddities in relation to his uncle’s disappearance.

He said the two men who had been working on Bob Ehlert’s boat in Panama visited the condo sometime after June 21, 2013, and found it unlocked. Upon entering, the men found a broken wine glass, but nothing was missing from the home.

“(Leaving your home unlocked) is kind of surprising in Panama City,” Doug Ehlert said. “You see a lot of houses with razor wire fencing on them.”

A note was also later found that said Bob Ehlert was leaving for two weeks with a woman named Diane to look at properties in a remote resort area called Bocas del Toro.

Doug Ehlert said he looked at the note, and he and Mariah Ehlert, Bob Ehlert’s daughter, thought it didn’t look like Bob Ehlert’s handwriting. He also said it didn’t look as though it was written by a native English speaker.

“It started with ‘I going’ instead of ‘I’m going,’” he said. “It also said, ‘to see some old friend.’ A native English speaker would say ‘an old friend.’”

By talking to some people in the area, the two found out Bob Ehlert met two Colombian women, possibly named Diana and Anna, at a bar called the Havana Club and he went to a soccer game with the women.

Doug Ehlert said he was not able to get in contact with the women.

“I found out that down (in Panama) there are a lot of young Colombian women who prey on older men,” he said. “There have been several scams with women (asking men) to look at real estate.”

But for Doug Ehlert, even the real estate scam possibility doesn’t seem to explain the disappearance. He said he checked his uncle’s browser history on his computer at his condo and found no evidence that he was looking at properties in Bocas Del Toro. He also said it would be odd for his uncle to look at properties there because purchasing houses or condos there can be difficult.

“Titles are hard to get,” he said. “It’s a risky investment unless you’re very careful.”

In addition to those discoveries, Doug Ehlert said they found a receipt from a hardware store that showed Bob Ehlert had bought a sledgehammer, a carpenter’s axe, a pickaxe and spray paint. He and Mariah Ehlert are unsure why Bob Ehlert would have purchased those items.

Doug Ehlert added that his uncle’s bank statements do not show any activity since he went missing, and his sailboat was docked at a Panamanian marina.

However, Bob Ehlert’s car was missing.

In an email last week, Mariah Ehlert said the investigation into her father’s disappearance is still ongoing and “hasn’t lost momentum.”

However, she added, “Things take an extraordinary long time down there (in Panama).”

On a website she set up to update people about the search for her father, mariahehlert.wix.com/findbob, Mariah Ehlert posted this:

“Bob Ehlert had an adventurer’s heart. He wasn’t afraid to get out and try something new; he loved to drink good wine, travel to far-out destinations, sail, garden, give back to his community, and, of course, he loved his family and friends deeply. Bob was much loved and is greatly missed.

“May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rains fall soft upon your fields and,

Until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-Irish blessing”

(ecmpostreview.com)

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John Patrick Acord Has Been Arrested in Panama

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - John Patrick Acord, indicted by a United States Grand Jury in Houston, Texas for operating a fraudulent investment scheme from September 2011 - September 2013, that raised over $5.5 million dollars from investors who believed they were purchasing shipping containers, has been arrested in Panama City.

Sources say Acord was arrested in the Hard Rock Hotel in Panama City, Panama yesterday. He is now reportedly "sitting in the holding cell at immigration, with no identification."

In Acord's scheme investors were promised guaranteed returns ranging from 13% to over 16%, depending upon the amount invested.

In reality, the 'profits' that were paid out to investors to perpetuate the scheme were actually funded by funds raised from new investors.

This form of investment fraud is the classic Ponzi Scheme; distributing a portion of the money raised from new investors to earlier investors to create the impression of an ongoing, legitimate and successful business operation.

Investors were further deceived by being told that the chief financial officer was an individual name John Delano, when in truth, Delano was a fictional name for Acord.

They also failed to disclose to investors that:

  • Acord had two prior federal fraud related convictions.

  • Acord had twice been permanently enjoined by the Securities & Exchange Commission.

  • Acord's partner Steven Patrick Jones had a prior federal conviction related to shipping and interstate commerce.

  • That investor funds were used for the personal living expenses of Jones and Acord.

  • That Jones and Acord created sham 3rd party leases to create the appearance of a going concern.

The Texas State Securities Board had issued an emergency cease and desist order in July 2012 in connection with the fraudulent activity, however Jones and Acord continued to sell investments in the phony business, EcoEnergy Group, Inc. dba Intermodal Wealth, Inc.

Editor's Comment: Good. Taking out the trash, once again. I have no idea why criminals from the United States continue to think they can "hide" in Panama. Panama will now find some sort of problem with Acord's immigration status, and put him on a flight to Houston, where he will be arrested upon landing.

Related Article: Wanted - John Patrick Acord - US Fugitive Hiding In Panama City - Ponzi Scheme

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Shootout On Calle Uruguay in Panama City Leaves Two Injured

Crime & PunishmentTwo people were injured in a shooting that occurred during the early morning hours on Wednesday outside of a nightclub on Calle Uruguay, in the area of ​​Bella Vista. (more)

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US Army Master Sergeant Omar Velez - Prime Suspect In Murder Of Panamanian Woman

Expat TalesA US Army soldier is under investigation for the murder of a Panamanian woman, a crime perpetrated on Monday afternoon in the town of Guararé, in the province of Los Santos. (more)

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Varela Denounces Use Of ANATI For Political Persecution

CorruptionJosé Luis "Popi" Varela, recently reelected as a Deputy to the National Assembly and the brother of president-elect Juan Carlos Varela, presented evidence on the Telemetro television news broadcast indicating on 4 December 2013 government officials working for the National Land Authority (ANATI) rented a helicopter to take photographs of land owned by Juan Carlos Varela, the presidential candidate for the PRD party Juan Carlos Navarro, and his running mate Gerardo Solis. (more)

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Relatives Of Missing Dutch Women Accept Their Deaths in Panama

Expat TalesThe relatives of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, the two Dutch women who disappeared in Panama last April, issued a statement this morning in which they accepted the deaths of the girls. (more)

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PRD And Panameñistas Extend Negotiations

PoliticsTalks between representatives from the Panameñista political party and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in Panama, in an attempt to reach an agreement on control of the National Assembly, could be extended until one day prior to 1 July - the day the new government of president-elect Juan Carlos Varela takes office. (more)

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Remains Found Of Other Missing Dutch Girl

Expat TalesThe bone remains found in the Panamanian jungle last week are those of the second missing Dutch woman, local sources have told Nos television.

DNA testing on tissue from the bones has revealed it to be that of Kris Kremers, the sources told Nos. Other human remains found at the scene were earlier tested as those of Lisanne Froon.

The two young women disappeared on April 1 when they went for a jungle walk close to the town of Boquete where they were staying.

River

No sign of them was discovered until last week when a local found a rucksack containing some of their possessions close to a river. Searches of the area turned up shoes and human remains.

A spokesman for Kremers’ family said the news of their deaths ‘was still overshadowed by the many questions surrounding their deaths’.

It now appears likely the women either got lost on their walk or had an accident. The remains were found 10 kilometres from where they were last seen. (Dutchnews.nl)

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President-Elect Varela Will Formally Present His Cabinet Tomorrow

PoliticsThe president-elect of Panama Juan Carlos Varela will officially present his Cabinet tomorrow, those who will serve starting from 1 July 2014 until 2019, reported EFE today. (more)

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Martinelli Plans To Grant Pardons To Politicians and Journalists As He Leaves Office

PoliticsPresident Ricardo Martinelli confirmed yesterday he will grant pardons to politicians and journalists, and that he will reduce the sentences of some prison inmates. (more)

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Panamanian Prosecutor Confirms - Remains Are Those Of Lisanne Froon

Expat TalesThe Public Ministry through the First Superior Prosecutor of Chiriqui, Bethsaida Pittí and coroner Silvia Bandel confirmed on Monday DNA analysis conducted on skeletal remains match samples provided by the parents of Lisanne Froon, and they went on to say what they found was a foot. (more)

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Financial Pacific - Linked To International Investigation

CorruptionAn international investigation reveals links between the case of the Financial Pacific brokerage house and the former Treasurer of the Partido Popular political party in Spain, Luis Bárcenas, who has been accused of illicit enrichment, and whose fortune is estimated at 48 million Euros (or 65 million dollars, today.) (more)

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