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Thursday, November 15 2018 @ 09:01 PM UTC

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Security Minister Ignores Poll Results on Violent Crime And Security in Panama

Crime & PunishmentSecurity Minister, Jose Raul Mulino dismissed the results of a recent survey indicating 80% of the public believes there is no security in the country. Mulino made his statements during a graduation ceremony for 239 new police officers in the Atlapa Convention Center. This graduating class, the 58th from the Police Academy, was named after Corporal Second Class Juan Alberto Samaniego who died in the line of duty. The event was also attended by the Chief of Police Gustavo Perez, who spoke about the arrival of new weapons for the entity. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Obviously, if 80% of the people are complaining about the security (crime) situation in the country, while the actual numbers and crime statistics reflect a decrease in crime, then there's a disconnect between reality and perception. Therefore, guys like Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino are either not doing a good enough job of getting the message out there, or they have a "credibility problem" - meaning, the people are simply not believing what they are being told when it comes to statistics on crime. Consider this - you live in a relatively quite neighborhood, not too much crime or violence. Then there's a very public murder on the city street right in front of your home. Someone comes along and guns down a neighbor who is shot many times, and who dies bleeding in the street. The police come, the medical examiners take away the body, the investigation begins, and the community is shaken. Statistically speaking that might be just one of the many hundreds of murders that will occur this year in Panama. However for the residents of that street or neighborhood it doesn't matter to them if there's only one murder all year long - because it happened on their street - so therefore there's "no security" in Panama. Mulino is wrong to simply "poo poo" the results of these kinds of polls. He needs to accept the fact that they have a massive problem with getting their message out, and making the perception match the numbers.

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Two Arrested in Calidonia With Fake $100 Bills

Crime & PunishmentTwo people were arrested after they were found to be carrying 22 counterfeit bills in Calidonia. According to the authorities, the people were conducting themselves in a suspicious manner, prompting law enforcement officials to search them. They were carrying fake $100 bills. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: Recently (yesterday?) another woman was busted trying to pass $3,600 dollars in fake bills at a bank. Heads up, apparently the local market has been flooded with fake bills. Here's a pretty good video that shows you how to check currency and spot counterfeits.

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Public Ministry Received 148K Cases in 2011

Crime & PunishmentPanama's Attorney General Jose Ayú Prado said during 2011 the Public Ministry received a total of 148,404 cases, and the most common being "economic crimes against property" (theft) with 38%. Ayú Prado said other cases were related to family legal and marital status with 33%, crimes against the collective security (drugs) at 13%, crimes against life and person (murder, assaults) at 13%, and crimes against freedom (kidnapping) and sexual integrity (rape) at 5%. Requests to open investigations for criminal cases increased by 80%. (Critica)

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Woman Arrested When Trying To Deposit $3,600 In Counterfeit Bills

Crime & PunishmentMaricruz Esther Pacheco Hull was detained offices of the National Police in La Chorrera after she tried to deposit $3,600 dollars in counterfeit bills. At around noon today this woman, who is supposedly a Panamanian citizen, was caught when one of the bank tellers detected the bills were fake. She said she had received the fake bills from a Venezuelan who owed her money. (TVN)
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Armed Robbery At Northern Corridor Toll Booth

Crime & PunishmentThree men robbed the toll booth on the Northern Corridor in Madden, stealing approximately $3,000 dollars. They held the security guard at gunpoint and took him to the cashiers on duty, and then stole all of the money that had been collected in tolls. (Critica)

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Colombian Ordered Revenge Hit for $10,000 Dollars

Crime & PunishmentA Colombian paid the executioners of Wilfredo de la Cruz Rodríguez, 28, nicknamed "Willy", $10,000 dollars to kill him - they posed as servants of God. The murder was committed on Tuesday night in the squatter community of Loma del Sapo, in Rana de Oro, in the village of Pedregal. Marcia Rodriguez, 50, mother of the victim, a Christian who has a regret for the irreparable loss of his son, spoke personally with the murderers. One of them said they were servants of God and they were going to separate a parcel of land, so she told her son they were looking for him. "The killers were desperate. They repeatedly called him on his cell phone but the signal is broken, until finally they talked, and they agreed to meet at our modest home with walls of zinc and a dirt floor. At that moment I went to the house of my daughter, but when I turned around I heard three shots," explained Mrs. Marcia.

She remembered that before the gunshots she heard an exchange of words. Witnesses said as soon as he greeted them he was attacked. "Willy" received the first shot in the jaw and when he collapsed they finished him off. He was shot twice more, once in the stomach and once in the chest. His mother, who sensed death, ran to his aid, but the criminals were leaving. They walked and laughed as if nothing had happened.

"Willy" was the Chairman of the Board of "Landless", a group of people took over the slopes of the Loma del Sapo, because they were homeless. Wilfredo's personality has two moments: when he was in the ways of God and the people admired him; and the other for the separation from his spouse, when he got drunk and attacked his ex-wife's new partner, a Colombian who he shot El Progresso of San Miguelito.

Official reports say the foreigner had offered $5,000 to kill him, but no one dared to take the contract until the offer was increased to $10,000 dollars.

Machiavellian: To find the whereabouts of "Willy", the gunmen kidnapped his former spouse and her daughter, then, posing as angels, but the devil dressed as sheep, carried out the macabre plan. The police captured the suspects in the crime. The victim left two children and he predicted his death in December. To his mother he left the house and the custody of his children. (Critica)

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Youth Gang Shootout in Don Bosco, Sector 2 of La Turín (Just Happened)

Crime & PunishmentThe residents of the area of Don Bosco, specifically in Sector 2 of La Turín, got a great scare this morning when a shootout occurred in the area. According to residents recently a young man was murdered in this sector which has caused more violence to break out. In the homes of the community there are bullet holes that pierced the wall just a short while ago. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: In Panama much of the lower level street crime is related to youth gangs in poorer neighborhoods who are fighting over turf and local drug trafficking for individual consumption.

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Warden of La Joya Prison Resigns

Crime & PunishmentThe director of the prison system, Angel Calderon, confirmed the resignation of the director of the La Joya penitentiary center Joya, Jose Batista. Calderon said the resignation became effective last week and is for personal reasons. He reported so far there are four candidates to fill this vacancy but did not disclose their names. (Critica)

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Man Accused Of Murder in Coclé Acquitted - Returns Home

Crime & PunishmentHe considered suicide. Gamal Gordón Vásquez, 36, lived through 63 days of anguish and sorrow after being arrested Coclé for a crime he says he did not commit. He found his strength by thinking of his two daughters (three and five years old), and in his mother Sylvia, who prayed for him day and night, and who repeatedly said her son was not involved in the murder of the former governor of Coclé, Dario Fernandez, who was killed on 6 November 2010. It was midday Saturday when thanks to a miracle of God the hearing was held, and using a security video taken at a grocery store in Santa Ana, Gamal's defense lawyers were able to prove when the crime took place (in Coclé), he was buying something at the store (in Panama City).

Gamal, upon returning home, was received by all of his neighbors, who gave him hugs and handshakes, and they threw a party to celebrate his innocence. "I spent the worst days of my life because I could not understand how I became involved in that case. If they had convicted me wrongfully they would have given me the maximum penalty, and I would not have been able to stand it," he said. During the time he was imprisoned, for seven days he was shackled hand and foot and without food. "They tried to intimidate me into saying I had done the murder and I should plead guilty, but I never did, because I didn't do it," he said. With a trembling voice Gamal thanked God, because there was an angel who saved him by making sure there was a working security camera running in the store at the time he was there to make his purchases. Yesterday Gamal saw his two daughters for the first time who screamed "Dad!" when they saw him. They ran into his arms because they missed him a lot.

Now, Gamal insists he is not involved in this case and he denies that he implicated others. His was the first case tired under the new adversarial criminal system in Cocle. The witnesses were a member of the State Border Service (SENAFRONT), one from the Judicial Investigation Department (DIJ), and the and two Asian owners of the store where he made his purchases that night. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: Oh, so he was tied and acquitted? That's different. I thought he was just released on bail or something. Yeah, it's sort of hard to be convicted of having killed someone in Coclé when you can prove you were in downtown Panama City buying a Coke at the time of the murder. I wonder how the police detectives were pointed to him in the first place. Last week some other dude was arrested in El Chorrillo for the same murder. Maybe it was a simple case of mistaken identity? The part about being shackled hand and feet for seven days with no food is troubling. He should immediately file a complaint against the National Police for human rights violations, but unfortunately in this country those kinds of complaints don't go very far or get much traction. He might get somewhere in the International Court of Human Rights, however. There have been decisions against Panama in which foreigners have been awarded verdicts and damages. But before they will take the case he first must exhaust all local avenues.

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"Smash And Grab" Robbery on Coastal Strip

Crime & PunishmentBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "Just a quick warning, I went on a walk on the Cinta costera this morning at around 7AM, when I got back to my car at 8AM I noticed that the car in front had a smashed window and had things stolen from it. I checked my dash cam but it didn’t record the culprits as it turns off after a minute of parking but did get the before and after! It’s the Nissan xtrail on the left. Be careful, I think there are no police there because its “safe” where as at the other places to park further down there are cops. Russ."

Before, Overview

Before, Closeup

After, Overview

After, Closeup

Editor's Comment: Thanks, Russ. These "smash and grab" robberies are tough. If the bad guys can see any sort of bag or valuables in the back of your car they just bust the window, grab, and run. You might want to consider putting any and all valuables in the trunk, or in an opaque box in the back in the case of an SUV. Or even better, don't leave any kind of valuables in your car unattended, at all. Too bad you didn't catch the bad guys in the act on video - that would have been cool. Glad to see you're using a dash cam. Thanks again for the heads up.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Police Arrest Suspect in Murder of Former Governor of Coclé, Darío Fernández

Crime & PunishmentDuring a police operation in El Chorrillo, officers captured the person suspected of being responsible for the murder of the former Governor of Coclé, Darío Fernández. (Telemetro)

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The Smell of Gunpowder in San Miguelito

Crime & PunishmentThe district of San Miguelito was the most violent in 2011 and yesterday the first two homicides of the new year were reported. Luis Carlos Mendoza Duarte, 16, became the first victim on Tuesday night. The crime took place at 11:31 pm, when "Luiyi", nickname of the now deceased, fled from his assailants in sector "H" of Cerro Batea, where he collapsed in the middle of a sidewalk while trying to escape. Nine impacts caused his death, said a police source, while a woman who declined to be identified said: "We were in the living room when we heard three shots, so we called 104. After a few minutes some neighbors came out and confirmed that it was a dead man, who was shot in the back." "A neighbor who attends Temple Zuriel recognized the boy and said it was 'Luiyi', so they called his mother Luisa Duarte, who also went there." It was learned the teen was returning from his girlfriend's house when he was surprised by his assailant, who remains a fugitive.

The Second Murder: This incident occurred in sector 31 of Veranillo 31, near the convenience store "Papa", where the victim ended up in the middle of the street. The victim is an unidentified young man, about 20 years old, fair complexion, who had three gunshot wounds, one in the head, another in the left ear, and back, a police source revealed. The removal of the corpse began at 2:10 am and ended at 2:55 am, the authorities still do not know the motive for the killing. (Mi Diario)

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Vice President's Bodyguard Shot A Would-Be Home Invasion Robber

Crime & PunishmentA teenager was shot twice while trying to break into a residence owned by a bodyguard of Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, said a source of the Judicial Investigation Department. The event took place on Friday December 30 at the officer's home, located in the village of Las Mañanitas, in the province of Panama. According to the investigation, the teenager was shot in the left arm and chest as he was removing the glass from a French window located on the left side of the house, in order to gain access to the home to steal. Charles Briton, 44, the official, who provides security for the Vice President reported the incident, during which he used his regulation weapon a 9mm pistol. Police units rushed to the scene, but the would be thief had already gone to the hospital in 24 de Diciembre. (Critica)
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Murder Rate in Panama Drops

Crime & Punishment There were 704 murders in Panama in 2011, or 7.2% less (55) compared to 2010. This was announced yesterday by the Minister of Public Security Jose Raul Mulino who said this decline was achieved thanks to the joint efforts of the different security agencies of the state working together. He said 37% of these homicides are not related to organized crime, but he gave no absolute figures for the calculation of that percentage. The homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants of 19.3 is the lowest since 2009 according Mulino, but remains above other Central American countries like Costa Rica (9) and Nicaragua (11). This rate rises to 20.6 when calculated according to 2010 census figures, based on the country's total population of 3,405,813 people.

Mulino acknowledged an increase in simple thefts and domestic violence cases, but noted reductions in cases of robbery and personal injury. He announced this year they will continue to use the "Pele Police" handheld data system, but said the software will be upgraded to make it faster. On drugs, he reported the seizure of 40.3 tons, 14.3 tons less than in 2010, a phenomenon attributed to the fact drug traffickers have sought other routes because of the fence set up in Panama. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Less drugs passing through, so less murders. It's getting much harder for them to do business here in Panama so they are going elsewhere. Most of the murders in Panama are related in one way or the other to drug trafficking, either international trafficking or domestic turf battles between youth gangs. Also, 40 tons? I thought I saw yesterday they announced the seizure of a total of 30 tons during the year? ...

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Family Members Of Four Executed Men Ask For Justice

Crime & Punishment The relatives of the four men who were executed during the weekend went to the Judicial Morgue to claim the bodies. Similarly, they called upon the authorities to investigate in order to determine the perpetrators and causes of this fact. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: The bodies of four men were discovered in Pacora over the weekend. They had all been shot in the face, their bodies were found in a car, and the car had been set on fire, apparently in an attempt by the perpetrators to cover their tracks and destroy evidence.

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Allegations of Police Abuse

Crime & PunishmentA man and his wife reported this morning on TVN News a case of alleged police abuse, supported by a video recorded with a mobile phone. According to Gustavo Carrasco, last November 10 they were watching the parade in the district of La Chorrera, when there was an exchange of words with others. "Suddenly the police came and spoke to me abruptly, then beat me." Carrasco told TVN News that because of the blows he needed an operation on his knee, and now he has to use crutches. He said his medical bills were more than $8,000 dollars. Carrasco also said although he has filed a complaint with the Office of Police Accountability (DRP), nothing has happened. Carrasco's wife, Denia Gonzalez, also complained that her husband, son and brother were "beaten before being arrested." Both are calling for an investigation by the National Police. (TVN)
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True Identity of Serial Killer From The Dominican Republic Revealed

Crime & PunishmentThe police in the Dominican Republic revealed today the true identity of the man who was extradited to Panama last month for his alleged involvement in the deaths of five citizens of Chinese origin, and said he escaped from a prison in the country in 2004 after he was imprisoned for kidnapping a Chinese merchant. The true name of Fermín Antonio Taveras Ramírez, who also used the name of Angel Betancurt, is Gilberto Ventura Ceballos, who managed to obtain documents such as passports and identity cards in the other two names. Police said in a statement they obtained the data "after a thorough investigation" conducted in coordination with the Central Electoral Board (JCE), which is in charge of the local registrar.

The archives of the institution reflect that the defendant escaped from prison in Najayo, in the province of San Cristobal (in the Southern part of the Dominican Republic), on 30 November 2004, a month after he was arrested and brought to justice for the kidnapping of Wonny Ho Wong, a Chinese merchant, for whose rescue his family paid 1.5 million pesos (almost $39,000 at current exchange rates). In this case the former National Army Sergeant Fernando Carela Trinidad was also brought to justice, according to the entity.

Gilberto Ventura Ceballos was also taken to court in January 2003 for allegedly defrauding 8,000 pesos (just over $200) from the owners of a school by posing as an inspector from the Social Security Institute.

The police said they are conducting further research to determine what assistance the defendant had received to try to outwit the authorities, and in the next few hours they will provide greater details of the case.

The man was caught last month in the sector of Andres, in Boca Chica, about 30 kilometers east of Santo Domingo, submerged inside of a tank filled with water to try to evade police pursuit.

Ventura Ceballos is involved in multiple murders, in which on 15 September 2011 the other Dominican José Alcibiades Méndez was arrested in Panama, who apparently buried the bodies of their five victims under the floor of a residence in La Chorrera, Panama. The death of the five victims, murdered between 2010 and 2011, caused a stir in La Chorrera, where several thousand people marched in September to repudiate the kidnapping and murder. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: These are the guys who kidnapped and murdered five college students in an attempt to be paid ransom for their release. The Panamanian police basically botched the investigation. The suspects were not identified until the families of the victims themselves were able to find a surveillance videotape of one of the suspects buying red plastic bags in a store, that they were used to identify the location where the ransom money was supposed to be paid.

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A Murder Occurred on Sunday Morning, And The Killers Are Convicted on Wednesday? Yup, It Really Happened in Panama.

Crime & PunishmentIn a landmark ruling, for being the first since the launch of the new adversarial criminal justice system in the provinces of Cocle and Veraguas, a judge of guarantees issued a conviction in a murder case that occurred on Sunday, 18 December 2011. Eliécer Javier Ojo González, 20, a resident of El Entradero, and Alexis González, 27, a resident of San Juan de Dios, both communities located in the district of Anton, were sentenced on Wednesday, 21 December 2011, to serve 14 and a half years in prison for the aggravated murder to the detriment of Carlos Luis Moreno Gonzalez, who was stoned to death early Sunday morning. The victim was found on the side of the road leading to the community of El Entradero, where he lived. He had multiple head injuries and had been thrown into a ravine. The Public Ministry began their investigations and on 19 December, following several raids in the area, they were able to apprehend those involved. The hearing in the case was held on Wednesday. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Holy Crap! A guy gets stoned to death on Sunday morning and his killers are caught, tried, and convicted in three days? That, my friends, is simply unheard of in Panama, until now. Wow. That was fast. Normally murder suspects can sit in prison for years and years awaiting trial. This was whiff, bam, boom. I think I'm going to like this new adversarial criminal justice system.

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Rio Abajo Gang Members Shout "You're A Bitch" While Politician Tries To Speak With The Press

Crime & Punishment"You're a bitch, you're a bitch" chanted some young residents of Calle 6 in Rio Abajo to Representative Javier "Patacon" Ortega. When Ortega tried to speak to the news media, some young people who were close to the site began to shout at "Patacon" and linked him to the shooting that occurred in the area yesterday. With curses and insults the young people expressed their repudiation over the alleged animosity Ortega reportedly has with Calle 6. They said Patacon has links and allies with other streets such as Calle 17, of which he never speaks ill. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: Calle 6 and Calle 17 are two different neighborhoods in Rio Abajo, controlled by different youth gangs.

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One Killed, Two Injured In Shootout Near Multiplaza Mall in Punta Pacifica

Crime & PunishmentMario Eusebio Barrios Calvo, 28, died yesterday in a shootout next to the traffic light at Punta Pacifica in the district of San Francisco. The shooting occurred at 6:45 pm. Barrios, who drove a white car, was running away from another driver who intercepted him at the traffic light. The car was hit in several places by gunfire. One of the passenger's windows had seven bullet holes. Barrios was accompanied by 18 year old Moisés Ureña and 27 year old Alfredo Macline - both were shot in the abdomen and taken to the Hospital Emergency Room of the Santo Tomas hospital. Apparently, those involved belong to a street gang that operates on Calle 17 in Rio Abajo. Near the place an abandoned gray Mercedes Benz was found with several bullet holes.

Mario's family members arrived at the scene, who reside in Rio Abajo. They collapsed when they heard their relative had died. Mario had a six month old baby who he had just registered yesterday morning in the Electoral Tribunal. His mother told El Siglo that her son was going to do some Christmas shopping at the Mutiplaza mall, located a few meters from where he was killed. The grieving woman said the car driven by her son belongs to some friends who were with him. At press time (10:30 pm) crime scene investigators and prosecutors remained at the scene gathering evidence. (El Siglo)

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Noriega Will Face Trial in March 2012 For 1968 Murder Of American Marine

Crime & PunishmentThe former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega appear for the first time in a Panamanian courtroom on 13 March 2012, to face charges over the disappearance and murder in 1968 of the Panamanian-American soldier Everett Clayton Kimble Guerra, judicial sources said. The date for the trial was set by the Superior Court of Chiriqui, three months after Noriega was charged (in the absence) in a preliminary hearing, said sources in the Supreme Court. In the case of Kimble Guerra, who was a 21 year old member of the United States Marine Corps when he disappeared, Aristóteles García and Abundio Moreno who were members of the Panamanian military, are also listed as defendants said the source. Garcia failed to appear at the preliminary hearing, so he was declared to be "in rebellion" against the legal process, while Moreno was tried in September although he still not been sentenced.

According to press sources, Noriega was the head of the headquarters of the western province of Chiriqui, bordering Costa Rica, where the events occurred. Last week, the Superior Tribunal of Chiriqui denied a petition for annulment filed by Noriega's defense lawyers.

The former strongman of Panama (1983-1989) is also accused in the 1969 murder of Luis Antonio Quiroz Morales from Chiriqui, but this process is under appeal. Noriega was extradited on 11 December from France, and he is being held at the El Renacer prison where he is serving sentences totaling more than 60 years in prison for crimes ranging from murder, violation of human rights and environmental damage. In all these cases, Noriega was convicted in absentia, because from January 1990 until his recent extradition, he has been serving prison sentences for drug trafficking and money laundering in the United States and France. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: And I think this is how it's going to go. From now on out there will be sporadic news articles about legal cases, trials, and decisions regarding Noriega. I think he will remain in prison, and he won't be allowed "house arrest" or any other kind of leniency. I think there will be dozens of cases and decisions against him, and eventually he will die in prison. It won't end until his corpse is cold. And one more thing - with Noriega now on the ground and in a prison cell in Panama, the chances that the PRD will ever get elected to the presidency are very slim indeed. Everyone knows that if the PRD gets back in power you can count to ten and Noriega will be a free man. Case in point - Pedro Miguel Gonzalez. He ran away and hid in Cuba until Ernesto Perez Balladares got elected then it was "safe" for him to come back to Panama. He was acquitted in a rigged trial and he's a free man today, although there are still charges pending against him for terrorism in the United States.

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Complaint Will Be Filed Against Noriega For 1989 Kidnapping of Father Majadas

Crime & PunishmentThe former general Manuel Antonio Noriega, imprisoned in Panama for serious crimes, will be sued on Wednesday for the 1989 kidnapping of the Spanish Augustinian priest José Majadas, according to a source of the family of Hugo Spadafora, the Italian-Panamanian doctor and guerrilla leader who was killed in 1985 during the years of the military dictatorship. Alida Spadafora, Hugo's sister, told Efe her sister Rita "has received authorization from father Majadas" to present the case against Noriega, who was repatriated on December 11 from France and who is now being held in the El Renacer prison facing sentences of more than 60 years. The source said after the return of former dictator, "it's the moment to act, because many human rights violations were not reported because he was not here."

Father Majadas "was kidnapped by the G2 (state security) of Noriega in the city of Chitre, where he was the pastor, and they had to release him due to the pressure put on by the people in the area, because the people would not stop ringing the church bells," said Alida Spadafora. Spadafora's family is from Chitre and has a long friendship with Majadas for the spiritual advice he has given, she said.

Official "mug shot" of Manuel Antonio Noriega, taken at the El Renacer prison on 11 December 2011 upon his return to Panama from France.

Born in Avila, Spain, in 1945, José Majadas arrived in Panama at 28 years old in the early 70's, a newly ordained priest of the Order of St. Augustine, to perform various missionary labors. In January 1985 he was named pastor of St. John the Baptist Cathedral of Chitre, according to a tally published by the Catholic weekly magazine Panorama Panama in 2010, when he had 40 years in the priesthood. It was in that city, the capital of the central province of Herrera, where on 22 February 1989 he was arrested by supposed immigration agents to be deported, according to the complaint filed by the then Ambassador of Spain in Panama, Tomas Lozano Escribano. In 1993, Majadas was declared "Meritorious Son of Chitre", became a citizen of Panama and, since 2009, has been a pastor of the parish of Santa Maria La Antigua in Panama City.

Noriega was ousted on December 20, 1989 by a U.S. invasion and he remained in prison from 1990 until 11 December 2011 serving sentences for drug trafficking and money laundering, and now here in Panama he faces various sentences for a total of 60 years in prison, including the murders and beheading of Hugo Spadafora, who in 1985 publicly denounced him for his ties to drug cartels. The former general who is now 77 years old and infirmities of health, was the last dictator who oppressed Panama between 1983 and 1989, as part of the de facto regime started in 1968 by General Omar Torrijos, who died in 1981. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: In those last years leading up to the end of the military dictatorship in Panama, some of the most courageous people who regularly spoke out against Noriega in public were the priests - who regularly used their sermons to blast the atrocities being committed against the Panamanian people. Noriega would have liked to have gotten rid of Father Majadas through this "immigration / deportation" ruse, but the people in Chitre wouldn't let him get away with it.

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Man Found Dead In A Ditch in Sabanitas, Colon

Crime & PunishmentThe body of an unidentified man was found dead in a ditch in the neighborhood Santa Rita, in the village of Sabanitas in Colon. The incident occurred early yesterday morning, Monday, when some neighbors noticed a bulge in the trench which caught their attention. National Police officers arrived to cordon off the scene to start their investigations. When police officers checked the body they only found a medical prescription with the name of Pablo Rodriguez, but they are investigating to confirm if that is the name of the victim. The person had personal property with him including a toothpaste, soap, and a bag containing cans, so presumably he was collecting aluminum. (Critica)

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Armed Robbery At A Gas Station in David Nets $10,000 In Cash

Crime & PunishmentTwo criminals with gun in hand robbed the manager of the Delta gas station located diagonally across from the Coca Cola plant in David, Chiriquí. The offense occurred at 7:30 yesterday morning, when two men came into the office supposedly to submit their resumes, and they surprised the manager when they pulled out a gun to rob her. The criminals put tape on her hands and feet, they took the key to the safe, and stole about $10,000 in cash. Once the robbery was finished, the criminals simply walked out without raising the suspicions of the men who were working to pump gas for the customers. Some time later the other workers realize what had happened and they went to the aid of the woman who was tied up inside of the office. They then proceeded to call the owner of the gas station and the National Police, who arrived on the scene. Saturnino Pinzon, who owns the gas station, said the criminals managed to take $10,000 and that the manager had been robbed. (Siglo)

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Off Duty Police Officer (Special Operations) Shoots And Kills Armed Robber On MetroBus

Crime & PunishmentFrom what they brought, they took for themselves. At midnight three criminals with a gun threatened passengers who were aboard a Metrobus on the route from Tumba Muerto to Santa Librada with license plate number 0207 close to Sector #2, and they took from them all of their money and whatever valuables they were carrying. All of the passengers were nervous and they gave everything they had to the heartless criminals so as not to be injured. Inside the bus there were two police officers of the National Police (PN). The criminals asked them if they were armed and when they said no, the criminals continued robbing the other passengers.

When the criminals believed they had accomplished their mission and were about to get off of the Metrobus, one of the police officers - who is in the special forces - opened fire at the robbers injuring 29 year old José Manuel Salvador, who was shot once in the abdomen and twice in the left forearm, and he died at the scene. He was the one who was carrying the .38 caliber weapon. Meanwhile the other two criminals escaped.

Among them was 20 year old William Javier Alvarado who was shot in the left arm. Hours later on his own he he showed up at the Santo Tomas hospital seeking medical attention. When he was being treated at the hospital police investigators found among his possessions some of the stolen belongings of the bus passengers, including BlackBerry cellular telephones. The third offender escaped from the scene of the robbery. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: Gun control is being able to hit your target. The off duty officer who took this guy out was very cool headed, in waiting for the criminal to think he was free and clear and about to exit the bus before opening fire. And of the three bad guys, only the guy who was armed was killed.

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Thieves Arrested in San Carlos

Crime & PunishmentFour suspects were arrested after robbing a "mini super" in Chame. The men stole money, cell phones, and attacked the store owner. Following that, they were chased by officers of the National Police, who caught two of the suspects near the Teta river in San Carlos. The other suspect tried to run away but he flipped his car, and there he was arrested. (Dia a Dia)
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San Miguelito District of Panama - The Third Most Dangerous Country in Latin America

Crime & PunishmentThe countries that form the so-called Northern Central American Triangle live in the worst situation of violence and insecurity in the world, according to a recent report by the United Nations Program for Development. Homicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants of these three states reveal the seriousness of the situation: 77.5 in Honduras, 64.8 in El Salvador, and 41.5 in Guatemala, according to the report written by LPG Datos, the research firm of the newspaper "La Prensa Grafica" of El Salvador. A statistical study made ​​by the newspaper El Siglo reveals that in Panama there is a district with the same levels of violence as the subregion of Central America. This is San Miguelito, where 134 murders were committed between January and November of this year, according to the monthly reports published by El Siglo of crimes occurring in the country. A mathematical projection indicates the district should end 2011 with 146 murders. And if you take into account that San Miguelito has just 315,019 inhabitants, the homicide rate for the year would be 46.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Recall that the homicide rate in Guatemala is 41.5. This homicide rate would also make San Miguelito more dangerous than the district of Panama City, whose projected homicide rate for 2011 is 36 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

This situation is not unique or different from past years. In 2010 there were 134 murders in San Miguelito for a homicide rate of 42.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a normal standard is 9 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, and a higher figure is considered to be an "epidemic" for that organisation. According to the investigation conducted by El Siglo, the area of Belisario Porras is the most violent of San Miguelito, and between January and November 2011 there were 40 murders. This is followed by the area of Omar Torrijos with 22 murders, the the areas of Arnulfo Arias and Belisario Frías with 21 each. (See map)

Editor's Comment: I love this kind of statistical analysis. Obviously the National Police should deploy their troops to these areas and make more of an effort to stem the tide of violence. At 146 murders in 2011, that's one murder every 2.5 days. And San Miguelito is more violent than Guatemala - which is saying a lot...

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Caretaker At Winston Spadafora's House Found Dead (Coincidence?)

Crime & PunishmentA worker at the house of Supreme Court judge Winston Spadafora, in Chitre, Herrera Province, was found dead. The man, identified as Pascual Núñez, was found dead on a sofa located on the terrace of the house and his belongings were located close by. Local residents alerted the authorities about the incident. So far the cause of death unknown, which is being investigated by prosecutors. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Hmmm. Manuel Antonio Noriega has been convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of Winston Spadafora's brother, Hugo Spadafora. And now on the exact day that Noriega is returned to Panama this man - who was apparently some kind of caretaker at Spadafora's house - turns up dead? Sitting on a couch in front of the house? With all of his belongings and possessions stacked up nearby? His death is probably not a coincidence. It makes no sense for me to speculate on this case - you can do that for yourselves. But on the surface it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

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Police Corporal Rapist Caught Red Handed - Arrested

Crime & PunishmentA corporal of the National Police was caught red-handed as he was sexually abusing (rape) a young girl, but the institution did not disclose his identity. The director of the National Police, Gustavo Perez, confirmed that a member of the institution was caught just as he committed the crime on the Coastal Strip. Unlike other cases in which the identity of the offender is released, this time the National Police declined to say who it is. Perez said the National Police is conducting a purification process in which any unit or police officers who is caught committing acts injurious to the badge will face the due process of law, just as would any other offender. It was reported this is the fourth time the police corporal rapist, who was assigned to the substation in Arraiján, has committed this type of crime. Detectives from the Police Investigation Department had the rapist under surveillance. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Police Chief Gustavo Perez was clearly pissed off and disgusted at the press conference yesterday when he revealed the arrest of this police corporal rapist. He's trying to clean it up, but it's a large institution with a whole lot of police officers (and growing). There will always be a percentage of bad apples, but I also think they should release the name of the rapists. I mean, they caught the guy red handed, right? Why protect his identity? I imagine they are trying to protect the prosecution's case or avoid the possibility that he might get released on a technicality or something like that, but if so, they should explain it that way.

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"Armed To The Teeth" - Dangerous Criminal Dángelo Dayán Ramírez Ramea Arrested

Crime & Punishment Dángelo Dayán Ramírez Ramea, who was on the "Most Wanted" list of the National Police, was captured yesterday in a Las Acacias with an arsenal of weapons and multiple forged identification documents. Ramirez, 39, was inside the house number 115 located on Seventh Street in Las Villas de Andalucia with a young woman named Ingrid Gabriela Brown Shaper who was also arrested. The head of the Bureau of Police Research (DIP), Omar Pinzon, the Anti Drug Prosecutor Javier Caraballo, and the Commissioner of the National Police Gustavo Cogley explained that a surveillance operation allowed for the arrest and capture of Ramirez before he could react. When searching the house where he was arrested, police found a lot of personal identification documents from nations such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia and even the state of Connecticut, USA.

International crime - Pinzon said the documents were used to commit crimes abroad through an international network of organized crime. "We may be saying that local local bands are associated with international drug trafficking," he said. The woman arrested in the operation would be one of the figureheads of the network.

Inside the house they also found two AR-15 assault rifles, a Heckler & Koch rifle, an AK-47 rifle, an SAF 9 mm submachine gun, a Ruger Mark II target shooting pistol Competition Model (silenced), and a 9 mm pistol.

The prosecutor Caraballo said Ramirez Ramea will be placed at the disposal of the Organized Crime Prosecutor, who will determine the charges against him, because at first glance there are a multitude of crimes. This offender has been investigated and arrested for crimes ranging from drug trafficking, crime against property (including the theft in 2005 of $2.5 million dollars from the International Bank of China, in Colon), money laundering, personal injury, extortion and so on. Five years ago, his enemies tried to kill him. (Mi Diario)

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