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Thursday, March 23 2017 @ 02:15 AM 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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Shocking moment Dutchman is shot in the back of the head (Video)

Crime & PunishmentBy Hannah Parry - This is the shocking moment a gunman casually walks into a fast food restaurant in Panama and shoots a man in the head at point blank range. (more)

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Two Killed (One Expat) And One Injured During Nightclub Shooting

Crime & PunishmentTwo people were killed and another injured as the result of a shooting early yesterday morning on Calle 52 in Bella Vista, near a nightclub. (more)

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Financial Pacific - Ten Minutes To Erase Everything

Crime & PunishmentIt took less than ten minutes to complete the task. Using a remote access to the computer systems, armed with the company's keys and passwords, the computer specialist managed to delete sensitive information stored in the archives of the Financial Pacific brokerage house. (more)

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Early Morning Police Activity in Panama City

Crime & PunishmentThe National Police carried out operations early Wednesday morning in the capital city, in different neighborhoods, in search of criminals as well as traffic operations to detect drivers who violate the law. (more)

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Prison System Director Making A Tour...

Crime & PunishmentThe Deputy Director General of the Prison System, Sharon Diaz, has been visiting several of Panama's prisons throughout the country over the past few days, to assess the operational development within them. (more)

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Citizen Complaints Of A Child Prostitution Ring in Pacora

Crime & PunishmentThe members of a community are the main witnesses of what is happening in their environment. (more)

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One Of The Moscoso Shooters Captured At Tocumen - Attempting To Flee Panama

Crime & PunishmentSecurity minister Rodolfo Aguilera spoke this morning through a phone interview about the event which occurred last night at the residence of the former president Mireya Moscoso. (more)

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Exchange Of Gunfire At Moscoso's House Leaves Two Injured

Crime & PunishmentThere was a confrontation between members of the Institutional Protection Service (SPI) guarding the residence of former president Mireya Moscoso on Thursday afternoon. (more)

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National Police Will Take Over Security In Panama's Prisons

Crime & PunishmentAccording to the director of the National Police, Omar Pinzon, the entity is ready and has enough officers to meet the order issued by the President, Juan Carlos Varela, to take over Panama's prisons, after the shooting that happened in the Nueva Esperanza prison in the province of Colon. (more)

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Panama Facing A "Gang Epidemic" : Gandásegui

Crime & PunishmentAccording to the sociologist Marco Gandásegui, the current crime wave being attributed to feuds between rival gangs is an epidemic resulting from wrong decisions made in the past. (more)

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Ten arrested for killing family in La Chorrera

Crime & PunishmentThe number of persons arrested for the murder of a family in La Chorrera has climbed to ten, as revealed by the President Juan Carlos Varela on Monday. (more)

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Panama Prison Horrors: Cellmates tell of 12-hour wait for medical attention

Crime & PunishmentBy James Whittaker - Cellmates of drug mule Mark Bodden have told of the squalid conditions and nonexistent medical care in the notorious Panama prison where the Caymanian died on Aug. 18.

The 37-year-old, according to the witness accounts, was injured in a fall from a makeshift bed in the seriously overcrowded cell block 6 of La Joya prison, where 506 foreign nationals are crammed into tiny rat-infested cells with limited access to clean water or exercise.

Three of Mr. Bodden’s fellow prisoners, including Dr. Arthur Porter, a high profile physician wanted in Canada in connection with a bribery scandal involving Montreal’s McGill University Hospital, have been in contact with the Cayman Compass to give their version of events surrounding the death.

The Caymanian prisoner was left without access to proper medical attention for nearly 12 hours after sustaining serious head injuries when he fell 8 feet from his “home-made bed space,” according to an unofficial two-page medical report produced by Dr. Porter.

“I am of the opinion that if Mr. Bodden had received a prompt transfer to a hospital with neurological competence, he would have had a substantial chance of making a complete recovery,” wrote Dr. Porter, who has been in the prison for 14 months fighting extradition back to Canada following his arrest on an international warrant in Panama City.

His report was emailed to the Compass through fellow prisoner Leo Morgan, a British drug dealer locked up for money laundering, who has been representing foreign inmates in talks with prison officials and embassy diplomats in an effort to improve conditions.

“Mark was not a bad kid. He made a mistake, did something to make some money and he ended up here.

“What happened was an accident, but he didn’t have to die. It could have been prevented if he had got medical care. He died because of neglect,” Mr. Morgan told the Compass in a call from the prison’s public phones.

The 57-year-old former boxer and nightclub bouncer, described as a “drug kingpin” in British press reports, said he had seen 60 people die during his 10 years in the Panama prison system from accidents, stabbings, fights and disease.

“There’s no medical center, there’s not even any water. We have to buy everything we have,” said Mr. Morgan, who competes in boxing bouts with fellow inmates for cash.

“Mark had good people looking out for him in Cayman. His grandmother sent him money and the church was helping him out. You have to buy everything, you have to buy your bed, you have to buy toilet paper.”

He said the cell block is a 180-bed facility that houses 506 foreign prisoners – a mix of Colombians, Africans, Jamaicans, Guatemalans and three British citizens: Mr. Morgan, Mr. Bodden and his cellmate Ben Perschky, who is serving a 112-month sentence for trying to smuggle cocaine out of Panama.

Mr. Perschky, speaking to the Compass via instant-messaging service Whatsapp, told how inmates had banged on the cell-block doors and made frantic calls to the British embassy to raise the alarm as Mr. Bodden slipped in and out of consciousness throughout the night.

“He fell around 9:30 Saturday night. The Canadian prisoner in here [Dr. Porter] examined him and he had broke his shoulder and his head was bleeding. He was responding though. We went to the people upstairs, with the contacts, but were told nobody is here and we would have to wait until morning.”

Mr. Perschky, one of six inmates who shared a cell with Mr. Bodden and bunked on the bed below, said he became seriously concerned when his friend began to experience convulsions.

“We carried him to the door. He was in a really, really bad way. We banged and banged on the door and at 8:30 a.m. Sunday a policeman came and opened it and they took him away. Monday morning we heard he had died.

“I believe he died because nobody came here to get him out and give him the care he needed to survive.”

In his report – a typed manuscript of his medical notes on the incident – fellow prisoner Dr. Porter, the former medical director of McGill University Health Centre, expresses similar opinions.

He writes that Mr. Bodden had suffered injuries to his chest, head and shoulder in the fall and had an “open laceration on his cranium.”

He describes how he attempted to “medically manage” the patient, who was suffering epileptic seizures, while others tried to raise the alarm.

“At around 8:30 am a policeman arrived and the patient was placed in a food trolley and wheeled out. On Monday 18th August I was informed that Mark had died. Frankly I am of the opinion that the care that Mark received was sub-standard,” Dr. Porter wrote.

He adds, “I have been incarcerated here for over 14 months and can attest this is not an isolated incident… Not having any ability to contact authorities, transfer or even have basic resuscitation equipment represents a significant systemic flaw in the delivery of medical care in the Panamanian Penitentiary system.”

Dr. Porter was injured himself during a riot at the prison – widely reported in Canadian news media earlier this month.

The Sierra Leone-born doctor is a prominent figure in Canada where he was a member of the Privy Council and served as chairman of the Security and Intelligence Review Committee under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He has been in La Joya since being arrested at the airport in Panama City on an international warrant in May 2013.

He is wanted by Quebec police in connection with a $22.5 million bribery and kickback scandal, described in media reports as one of the largest frauds in Canadian history.

Dr. Porter is facing charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud toward the government, breach of trust, participating in secret commissions and laundering proceeds of crime, according to Canadian media.

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"Gang Of Thieves" Had Plans To Expand Into The Interior

Crime & PunishmentThe criminal gang that robbed 11 restaurants in the past month planned to expand their criminal activities into the interior of the country, and had already executed an assault at a fast food restaurant in La Chorrera. (more)

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Police And Restaurant Owners Talking After Wave of Robberies

Crime & PunishmentMeetings between restaurant owners and the National Police (PN) will continue this afternoon, following a wave of thefts that have happened in recent months, according to police commissioner Javier Castillo. (more)

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Foreigners Abducted At Gunpoint After Arriving At Tocumen International Airport in Panama City

Crime & PunishmentA Peruvian couple were abducted as they were driving from the Tocumen International Airport in a car, and were intercepted by criminals in a taxi. (more)

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Police Dismantle Extortion Ring in Cocle

Crime & PunishmentFour subjects were arrested and a firearm was seized, the result of an operation carried out by the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) of the National Police and the Prosecutor in the province of Cocle. (more)

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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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