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Monday, July 28 2014 @ 08:32 PM EDT

Routine Street Crime and Violence

Much of the evening news consists of routine, everyday street crime and violence. Unfortunately "if it bleeds it leads" so the casual observer tends to get a somewhat exaggerated view of the overall public safety and security situation. Although the English speaking expatriate community is rarely effected it's important to remind people who only read the "Panama is Paradise" websites that routine crime and violence occurs. Panama is relatively safe, probably much safer that most major cities in the United States, but there are certainly specific areas best avoided. Recently several high profile conflicts between youth gangs have spilled over into surrounding communities, prompting a government reaction and crackdown. Articles in this category are related to the routine "low level" street crime occuring in the country. If you require additional information about this or any other category of information regarding the Republic of Panama please take advantage of our powerful in-house search engine. And if you still can't find what you're looking for we even take requests! Welcome aboard, and please remember to tell your friends about Panama-Guide.com, the #1 English Language Website about the Republic of Panama. Salud.
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Prosecutor Taking Statements In Financial Pacific Case

Crime & PunishmentThe Third Superior Prosecutor will take the official sworn statements from the officials who work for the Superintendence of Market Securities (VPS) who performed the analysis of the accounts and transactions made by Financial Pacific (FP), as part of the investigation against Mayte Pellegrini and 12 others who are facing charges of financial fraud. (more)

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Henriquez: "We will respect the rights of prisoners"

Crime & PunishmentPanama's Government Minister Milton Henriquez acknowledged there are irregularities occurring inside of the country's prisons. (more)

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50 Year Old Brazilian Woman Found Dead In Her Panama City Apartment

Crime & PunishmentGraciela Lima, a Brazilian national, was found dead inside her apartment on Calle 50. (more)

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Financial Pacific Refused To Submit Reports

Crime & PunishmentExecutives for the Financial Pacific brokerage house refused to provide details of their accounting records, preventing the market regulator from taking an accurate x-ray of the company's financial situation. (more)

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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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Riot At The David Public Prison - One Injured

Crime & PunishmentThere are reports of a riot inside of the public prison in the city of David, in Panama's Western province of Chiriqui near the border with Costa Rica. (more)

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Contraband Smugglers Detected And Arrested Outside Of La Joyita Prison

Crime & PunishmentPanamanian authorities recently detected two people attempting to smuggle contraband into the La Joyita prison, and even grizzled veterans were surprised at what they found. (more)

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Second Superior Tribunal Overturns Acquittal Of Alexandre Ventura Nogueira

Crime & PunishmentPanama's Second Superior Tribunal has overturned an earlier decision (acquittal) handed down by the Sixth Criminal Court, and has sentenced the businessman Alexandre Ventura Nogueira to six years in prison, for the crime of fraud committed against Roger Khafif. (more)

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Gang Of Home Burglars Arrested

Crime & PunishmentDetectives of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) arrested three women and four men - all foreigners - responsible for the theft of property property in the sectors of Linda Vista, Costa del Este, and Clayton. (more)

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One Killed, One Wounded in Brazen Multiplaza Murder

Crime & PunishmentThe National Police reported a shooting at the Multiplaza mall in downtown Panama City on Friday night left one dead and one injured.

Preliminary reports indicate one of the offenders started shooting at the two victims at 7:30 pm as they were sitting in the Grand Café restaurant.

According to a witness at least five shots were fired.

One of the criminals fled in a van, and another in a taxi. Police began investigations. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Whoever the shooters were, they were recorded by at least a few security surveillance cameras as they made their escape. However this sounds like a hit - and there's a very good chance the shooter was on a plane for Bogota before the ambulance arrived. That's what they do in these sorts of things. The paid assassin is flown in from another country. They make their plan and have it all set up. And they go straight from the scene of the shooting to the airport to board their plane back to where they came from. And of course that's all just simple speculation. There's no information on the identify of the victims, why they were shot, or who shot them. But history dictates that these highly visible murders in a very public setting are often paid assassinations, and almost always related in some way or another to drug trafficking.

And the bottom line for the members of the English speaking expatriate community in Panama remains the same. This sort of violence rarely spills over to impact the expats. The only exceptions are when gringos get involved in crime or drugs, cases of mistaken identity, or targeted home invasions or robberies because of a perception of relative wealth.

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Gunfire Erupts At Event To Mark End Of Blandon Campaign - One Killed

Crime & PunishmentOne person was shot and killed this afternoon in the Urracá park in the area of Bella Vista in Panama City, near event to mark the end of the political campaign of Jose Isabel Blandon, who is running for the position of Mayor of Panama City for the Panameñista political party.

The victim was shot several times, and killed. The political activity in the area was suspended. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Blandon showed up at the event, and was notified by the police that the event would have to be suspended. The shooting occurred close to the area where Blandon was going to be holding his end of campaign rally this afternoon. The young man who was shot ended up face down on the sidewalk, dead, after he was shot several times in the chest at close range. The police have started an operation to try to find the shooter.

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18 Restaurant Customers (Some Expats) Robbed At Gunpoint in Panama City

Crime & PunishmentEighteen customers of the Os Segredos Da Carne restaurant were robbed at gunpoint by three armed criminals on Tuesday night.

While escaping, they shot the security officer who was working at the Embassy of India in both legs, when he tried to thwart the robbery.

The incident occurred at 10:30 pm on Tuesday on Ave. Federico Boyd in Bella Vista, where the Brazilian restaurant is located.

Early reports indicate several customers, among them both Panamanians and foreigners, were enjoying a nice evening.

Suddenly three men stormed the premises with guns in hand.

One of the offenders stayed at the front door, and the other two went to the cash register.

When they didn't find any cash, they began to rob the eighteen customers who were there.

They took cash, jewelry, cell phones and other belongings.

When they tried to flee, the 54 year old security officer fired warning shots, but he was hit by gunfire in the left thigh and right leg.

The criminals fled the scene in a light blue Hyundai Accent, and a Toyota Yaris taxi.

The wounded man was taken to the Santo Tomas Hospital.

The complaint was lodged with the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ ). (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Well, someone got released from prison. A few years ago there was a rash of these sorts of "steal from the customers in a restaurant" crimes. Someone got arrested and sent to prison, and they stopped for a long time. Now apparently that guy has been release, so here we go again.

"Warning shots?" That's friggin' stupid. If you're going to use deadly force, use it right. So while this guard was using his weapon as a noise maker, the bad guys were trying to kill him. Bad call. If you're going to engage, engage. If that security guard had dropped a couple of those guys, he would have gotten a pat on the back.

If you ever happen to find yourself noshing on whatever with your favorite squeeze and all of a sudden there's a bunch of dudes with guns - hit the floor and follow their orders. Give up everything with no resistance. Better to lose your wallet and watch than your life.

So think about that - just how screwed would you be if you suddenly lost your wallet. Do you have a photocopy of every card that's in there - front and back? How hard would it be for you to recreate the entire contents of your wallet, get replacement credit cards, dial the 1-800 numbers to turn off cards, etc? Think like a Boy Scout and be prepared.

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Mulino Corrects Varela - "Murders Have Gone Down"

Crime & PunishmentThe seizure of 210 tons of drugs, a decrease in homicides in the last five years, the construction of 82 police stations in different communities in the country, and the purchase of technological equipment are some of this administration's achievements in security.

This, according to the Public Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino, who held a press conference to report on the current situation of crime in Panama.

Minister Mulino said 818 homicides were reported in 2009, 759 in 2010, 759 in 2011, 665 in 2012 and 665 in 2013.

"The decrease and the control of the murder rate is the product of the work being done every day by the security sectors," he said.

He referred to their annual report issued on 8 January 2014, "there were 665 homicides in 2013, and of those 602 were for actions related to drug trafficking and gangs."

Mulino also talked about the amounts of drugs seized in the past ten years.

4.95 tons of drugs were seized in 2004, 9.36 in 2005, 8.58 in 2006, 28.42 in 2007, 54.31 in 2009, 54.24 in 2010, 39.63 in 2011, 35.51 in 2012 and 41 tons in 2013.

"The previous government (of Martin Torrijos) seized 121 tons of drugs, while the current administration (of Ricardo Martinelli) has seized 210 tons of drugs," he said.

He added that in 2009 the National Police conducted 27,485 police actions, 124,766 in 2010, 205,790 in 2011, 308,531 in 2012, 317,945 in 2013, and so far this year 42,516, to strengthen the security of the population.

Minister Mulino said from 2010 to 2014, the Ministry of Public Security has built 82 new police stations in the country.

"Through the 'Inside Lands Security Program' we have conducted more than 250 tours to learn of the crime problems in each region" he added.

During the press conference the Minister Mulino was accompanied by the analysts Alberto Amaris, Elsa Carrasco and Omar Blandón, specialists of the National Integrated System of Criminal Statistics (SIEC), who explained the proper techniques for measuring crime statistics. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: In 2009 when Ricardo Martinelli took office, the population of Panama was 3.36 million. In the past five years it has grown to 3.87 million - so there are now about 510,000 more Panamanians than when he took over. So the murder rate per 100,000 population in Panama in 2009 was 23.4. Thanks to the growing population combined with the reduced total number of murders in Panama, in 2013 that murder rate has dropped to 17.1 - or a decrease of 26.9%.

Now put this into the context of a country where an estimated 200 tons of cocaine passes through every year. Those drug traffickers are fighting over turf. They fight over assets, routes, personnel, and hardware. They try to rip one another off. They will alert the authorities when their competition is moving a load, hoping the cops will do the job of taking them out. And murder means nothing to these guys. The cocaine that passes through Panama every year has a street value of many billions of dollars. The vast majority of the murders in Panama are in some way or another connected to drug trafficking, or the gangs that control the local level drug distribution throughout the country. Most of this criminal activity (murders) never splashes over into the community of English speaking expatriates in Panama. For the most part, these guys want to avoid contact or problems with foreigners - because that only brings down additional heat. The Martinelli administration has done a good job of increasing drug busts while reducing the murder rate in the country. Normally, when you put more pressure on the drug traffickers, the murder rates go up.

Mulino called this presser because earlier this week the Panameñista candidate Juan Carlos Varela was in the news trying to criticize the Martinelli administration on their security performance. In fact Varela was simply trying to exploit the headlines about a journalist who was killed, and he was disingenuously extrapolating those unfortunate events into an untrue assessment of a supposedly increasing murder rate. That's also why Mulino surrounded himself with statisticians and analysts in this press conference, so they could explain (to both the press and Varela) the proper way of looking at crime data and statistics. The message was clear - "screw you, Varela..." - because in fact the Martinelli administration can stand pretty firmly on their security record. And Mulino takes this shit seriously.

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65 Year Old American Woman Raped, Found Naked in Chiriqui

Crime & PunishmentA 65 year old American woman was found completely naked and apparently raped in the area of Los Abanicos of David, in the Western province of Chiriqui, Republic of Panama.

The foreign woman was discovered by residents of that community near the water tank.

The residents notified the police who responded to the scene.

They used their patrol car to transport the victim to the Rafael Hernández regional hospital in David, and later she was transferred to the José Domingo de Obaldía Children's and Maternal hospital.

She is in delicate condition. (Siglo)

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Man Executed Near Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal

Crime & PunishmentRuben Oses Delgado, 26, was executed by the road leading to the former Fort Sherman military base, in a forested area next to the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal, in the province of Colon.

The victim had injuries to the neck and shoulder blade area, his hands were tied, and he was shirtless.

It was learned he was working as a security guard at a private construction project.

The authorities have started their investigations into this case. (Critica)

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Sexual Slavery Ring Dismantled in Colombian City

Crime & Punishment(Prensa Latina) Colombian and Panamanian authorities dismantled in the central city of Pereira a sexual slavery ring, operating between those countries and Bahamas.

According to the note broadcast by television, among the detainees are three women in charge of contacting, and recruiting young women with economic problems, under false employments and good salaries.

Victims were sent to Panama and in that country the criminals trap them in discos and force them to work as sexual workers.

During the operation members of the Direction of Criminal Investigation and Interpol and officials of the Panamanian Consulate in Colombia rescued two women victims of physical abuse.

According to recent data by the International Organization for Migrations, in Colombia more than 70,000 people are victims of sexual slavery.

Editor's Comment: Ah. So that's why a Panamanian official recently made an announcement they were going to be cracking down on sex tourism...

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One Man Killed, Another Shot in Bocas (Both Americans?)

Crime & PunishmentA 27 year old man died Sunday morning in Changuinola in the province of Bocas del Toro, when he was shot twice in the chest.

The victim was with a friend who was also wounded, in the forehead.

This person was transferred to the Rafael Hernández regional hospital in David, where the doctors who are treating him reported he is in stable condition.

The National Police in Bocas del Toro conducted an operation resulting in the capture of a suspect. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: I was just notified the American citizen Adam Ledford, one of the owners of the Cacique Adventure Tour Company, is now laying in a bed in the Santo Tomas hospital. He was transferred there from Changuinola, after he was shot three times with a 9mm pistol. It should be made clear I am making the assumption this article in La Critica is actually reporting on the same incident, and Adam Ledford was the person identified in the article as the person who was injured. While this article in La Critica does not identify the murder victim as being an American, that also might be the case - I don't know who Adam Ledford was with when he was shot. Apparently the National Police have captured the perpetrator of this crime. (See Follow on report.)

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Mexican Gunned Down on Via Argentina, Bella Vista, In Broad Daylight

Crime & PunishmentThe Mexican citizen Uriel Eduardo Salas Frias, 58, was shot by a gunman in broad daylight, on Via Argentina, Bella Vista, while driving a rented gray Hyundai Accent sedan.

The murder occurred yesterday, at 2:40 pm on Saturday Carnival.

Early reports indicate the driver of the Accent was forced to stop by a second car gray sedan that was going in front of him.

Then a light skinned man, who was driving the other gray sedan got out, pulled out a gun, and squeezed the trigger eleven times.

The bullets penetrated the windshield to impact the unfortunate victim in the head and chest, he could do nothing to respond to the surprise attack.

The driver died at the scene.

Meanwhile, the engine of the car, with plate AB1781, remained on until the time of the removal of the body.

11 bullet casings were recovered. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Almost guaranteed to be related to drug trafficking. The shooter was probably on an airplane leaving the country before the victim was in a body bag. This has all of the hallmarks of a professional hit. These guys have no fear of doing their job in broad daylight, in the middle of the city, in front of dozens of witnesses, on a busy city street. For those of us who are members of the English speaking community of expatriates, these types of crimes almost never reach us. As long as you don't start trafficking cocaine, you won't have a problem.

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Supreme Court Rejects Coronado's Appeal

Crime & PunishmentThe decision made by the government of Panama to remove the company Desarrollo Golf Coronado from the National Tourism Register will remain in force, after the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court of Panama upheld the decision made by a lower court to reject their appeal.

The decision was issued on 10 February by the Supreme Court Justice Alejandro Moncada Luna, who did not accept the appeal.

The company Desarrollo Golf Coronado was removed from Panama's National Tourism Register on December 7, 2012.

In addition to Moncada, the ruling was signed by Justice Victor Benavides. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: After the alliance between the Panameñista political party and the ruling Cambio Democratico fell apart in the end of August 2011 (that's to Varela's participation in the Finmeccanica debacle), the La Prensa newspaper began to attack Ricardo Martinelli like a rabid dog. The newspaper is owned by I. Roberto Eisenmann Jr., who also owns the Desarrollo Golf Coronado development along Panama's Pacific beaches. As an obvious retaliatory move, Martinelli sent tax auditors to tear apart Coronado, and they found all sorts of accounting irregularities. The government decided to revoke Coronado's tourism status (tax breaks) mostly because Eisenmann was including things like memberships in the Golf course and his Equestrian Center as tourism activities. The short answer is, tourists don't buy horses in Panama, nor do they buy lifetime memberships in golf courses. They might come and ride a horse or play a round of golf, that's fine. But in reality the guys who are buying horses or gold club memberships are not, in fact, tourists.

This decision to remove Coronado from the Tourism Registry will cost Eisenmann millions of dollars over the next many years. Meanwhile the La Prensa newspaper and Eisenmann continue to lambast Martinelli at every opportunity. The fact of the matter is - Juan Carlos Varela will not be the next President of Panama after the upcoming elections in May - the CD's Jose Domingo Arias will. And that just spells more trouble for Eisenmann, La Prensa, Coronado, and Panameñistas everywhere. Mostly because by the end of Arias' term in office, every Supreme Court justice will have been appointed by a CD president. And in Panama, that's game, set, and match. I will repeat my assessment that the CD is positioned to remain in power in Panama for a very long time - like maybe 50 years or more. The PRD and Panameñistas will wither (but not die completely for a long time). It will take something new and different to emerge which does not yet exist - to unseat the CD.

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Carl Baker Arrested in El Cangrejo On New Year's

Crime & PunishmentBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Carl Baker was arrested last night in front of the Veneto Hotel by officers of the National Police, in case anyone is looking for him. This guy has been on the scene in Panama for many years, scamming members of the English speaking expatriate community out of relatively small sums of money, usually anywhere from $20 to $200 or so.

He almost always targets foreigners who are in Panama as tourists, who he knows will be leaving the country soon - meaning they will be less likely to be able to press formal charges against him.

In any case, as of last night he was in a jail cell after having been arrested in El Cangrejo. If anyone has a pending complaint they would like to file against this guy, now would be a good time to come forward and file a "me too" complaint.

In reality, he's been arrested literally dozens of times. The police seem to know who he is, and they also don't seem to care very much. Baker has been in and out of jail so many times I suspect every low level judge knows him on sight.

His "rap" is always pretty much the same. He say's he's been in the US military. That he lost his passport (or something). He needs a few bucks to tide him over until the US Embassy opens on Monday morning. Literally, this is how he makes his "living." He's non-violent and I've never heard a report of him being involved in a fight or some sort of a physical altercation, so therefore he's not all that dangerous (in a physical sense) but he will try to separate you from your money.

In all likelihood, he will always be on the radar in one way or another in Panama...

Editor's Comment: Yeah. Threatening to kill someone on video is almost always a bad idea. But anyway, I added this video because it shows what Baker looks like. And predictably, the police let Baker go (again) because there was no one to press charges against him. This is how he gets away with it - time and time again. Baker has found a "niche" ...

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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A Man Was Found Severely Injured At A Residence In The 24 De Diciembre

Crime & PunishmentA man was found beaten and gagged at a residence located at the 24 de Diciembre.

According to information received, the subject was taking drugs the night before with other people who apparently beat him up later in the night.

The subject was taken by an ambulance from the SUME 911 to the Regional Hospital of the 24 de Diciembre.

One subject has been arrested for this event, who was also found inside the residence. (Mi Diario)

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A Man Was Killed In Vista Hermosa

Crime & Punishment

Today, a man was killed in the area of ​​Vista Hermosa in the 24 de Diciembre.

The unofficial data suggest the victim was at home when some subjects came in and shot him, one of the bullets went straight into his heart.

The neighbors took the victim to the 24 de Diciembre hospital, where he died.(La Critica)

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Truck Loaded With Hams Stolen In A Supermarket Parking Lot

Crime & Punishment

Today, a refrigerated truck loaded with hams was stolen in the parking lot of a supermarket at the 24 de Diciembre.

The truck was later located in Felipillo, but without the hams.

Early reports point out the truck driver left it on and entered the supermarket, when it was stolen by criminals.

The National Police activated an operation, but couldn't locate the criminals.(La Critica)

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Fireworks Worth $15 Thousand Seized In Chiriqui

Crime & Punishment

Today, the staff of the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC), seized fireworks worth $15 thousand in a retail store located in the community of La Union, Renacimiento district, province of Chiriquí, because it didn't meet the security requirements and didn't have the permits required by law.

Abelardo Serrano Guerra, director of Civil Protection in Chiriqui, reported they gave continuity to the complaints received because of the illegal sale of fireworks in the region.

"It's the second time this situation occurs with the same person, last year he threatened our officers when they were doing the inspections and he threatened them again this year, so we coordinated with the SENAFRONT to provide security to our officers, we will continue doing these operations," as said by Serrano Guerra.(Telemetro)

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MiBus Started An Investigation For Sex Tape Recorded Inside Of A Metrobus

Crime & Punishment

Today, the company in charge of public transportation in the city, MiBus, launched an investigation after the release of a sex tape recorded inside of a Metrobus unit.

MiBus made a statement saying they'll take all measures necessary to prevent events like these to happen again.

"MiBus has nearly 3 thousand operators and we will not allow such actions to affect those Panamanians fulfilling a decent and dignified work in our company," as emphasized in the press release.(Panama America)

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3 Subjects Detained For Stealing Iron Pieces From A Company In Colon

Crime & Punishment

Three men were detained by the National Police when they were stealing a lot of iron pieces from the Pilotes del Insto company in a truck, located in Villa Guadalupe, Colon.

According to preliminary investigations some of the detainees had worked in the company, dedicated to the making of steel structures for bridge projects, among others.

It was reported they already had three days of stealing iron pieces.

The number of iron pieces they stole hasn't been quantified yet, but at the time of retention 50 iron bars and the body of a crane, between other parts, were found.(Mi Diario)

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Packs Of Cigarettes And Liquor Found Outside Of La Joyita

Crime & Punishment

On Saturday, Shortly after finding out several people were introducing Gamecocks and liquor into the jail La Joyita, the authorities discovered a lot of illegal goods into the bushes a few meters away from the prison.

The National Penitentiary System reported finding 135 packs of cigarettes, 24 empty drug packages, 9 bags of rice paper, 124 razors, 5 whiskey bottles and a tank of rum, this good were going to be presumably introduced in the jail.

The finding came after preventive actions carried out by the external security of the Prison, as reported by the National Penitentiary System.(Mi Diario)

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14 Year Old Child Was Killed In Colon

Crime & Punishment

Yesterday, a 14 year old child was gunned down at calle 12 avenida Justo Arosemena Avenue, in Colon.

The boy died instantly at the place of murder, the cause of this event remains unknown.

The National Police is currently making an operation to locate the killer.(La Critica)

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29 Cows Seized In Chiriqui

Crime & Punishment

Today, 29 cows, allegedly smuggled from Costa Rica, were seized by agents the of the Directorate of Customs Control in Chiriqui.

According to reports, two Panamanians were arrested and are currently under investigation for this crime.

The cattle was detected in one of the DFA checkpoints, established near clandestine routes in Pueblo Nuevo de El Copal, in Rio Sereno.(La Critica)

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The Interpol Captured Two Foreigners Requested By International Authorities

Crime & PunishmentUnits from the Interpol captured two subjects with an arrest warrant for extradition issued by the Attorney General per request of different governments who were requesting their detention and extradition.

The first one had a red alert at the Interpol, and was being requested by the authorities in Spain for drug trafficking. He is a 51-year-old man, Colombian, and arrived from Trinidad and Tobago.

The second was a 39-year-old man, from El Salvador, who was requested by the authorities in the U.S. for sexual offences. Both were alone at the time of their capture in the Tocuemn International Airport. (Critica)

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