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Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 01:43 AM EDT

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288 Kilos of Cocaine Found In Boat Workshop in Rio Abajo

Drug TraffickingTwo hundred eighty-eight (288) packages of cocaine were seized by the units of the Directorate of Police Information, in conjunction with officials from the Anti Drug Prosecutor, found hidden in the false bottom of a boat, and in a storage area of a company used as a front, named "Eurocasas". The drug operation was conducted yesterday, Thursday, in the morning, in the said premises located on Calle Octava in Rio Abajo.

When the police arrived there was no one in the premises that was being used as a workshop. There were only two German shepherd dogs, guarding the premises. During the inspection they found two boats, and upon further review they found the drugs hidden in a false bottom that had been built into both boats. Other packages of drugs were found within several small boxes, bags and suitcases in a storage area on the premises.

The Chief of Police of the Pueblo Nuevo zone, Deputy Commissioner Jose Duarte, said they received a telephone call on Wednesday night reporting the suspicious movement of cars on the site. This irregular situation led to an intelligence operation conducted by specialized anti drug units, and when the raid was ordered they found 54 kilos in a boat and more drugs in the storage area. The drugs were field tested, and was positive for cocaine.

It is presumed the place was used as a workshop, in order to modify the boats, which were then used to transport drug shipments to other countries. The drugs were transferred to the National Police headquarters located in the district Ancon, where it is heavily guarded. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: A kilo of cocaine in Panama City costs about $4,500 so 288 kilos has a wholesale value in Panama of $1.29 million. A kilo of cocaine in Atlanta has a wholesale (traffickers) value of about $26,000 so 288 kilos in the US is worth $7.48 million. Then once it's cut and sold on the street at a retail level, the value jumps to $100,000 per kilo so 288 kilos eventually brings in $28.8 million dollars in cash. So "what's the value of this bust?" Depends...

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330 New SENAFRONT Recruits Undergoing Basic Training

Drug TraffickingA total of 330 young people began their dream of serving their country, their chance to be good men and women, through the basic police training course specialized in protecting the borders of Panama, 40% of them come from different indigenous ethnic groups in the country. Among the aspirants, 100 are from ethnic Ngäbe-Buglé, who aspire for a better future for their family, which is why they ventured into this noble, worthy, and well paid profession. The Director of the SENAFRONT police Commissioner Frank Alexis Abrego said in the SENAFRONT, the Panamanian youth will be fully prepared in academic, physical and mental training, as well as in strengthening civic and moral values, aimed at guaranteeing effective professional service to the community. He said he was pleased that so many young Panamanians have heeded the call to join the ranks of the organization, where after a rigorous screening process they have selected the best. (Dia a Dia)

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Blown Away By Assassins - Busy Street, Broad Daylight, Lots of Witnesses

Drug TraffickingThe citizen José Martínez Díaz, 37, was gunned down yesterday afternoon, Friday, on Via Domingo Diaz, opposite the entrance to the "On the Run" in Villa Lucre, on the side of the road headed towards the city center. According to preliminary reports, it happened at around 5:00 pm. Initial reports indicated there was a body of a man in the middle of the roadway who had been run over by a car. A few minutes later it was verified that the victim had been shot. Apparently the victim was traveling in a Toyota with licence plate number 730230 and he was being followed by two subjects on two motorcycles, who opened fire on the vehicle as evidenced by the holes from the projectiles. Allegedly the victim left the car running away from death, but he was topped by his murderers. He was shot more than seven times. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Broad daylight, busy street, lots of witnesses - and these assassins just don't care, at all.

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Foreigners Busted At Tocumen With $60,000 In Cash

Drug TraffickingAgents of the Judicial Investigation Department (DIJ) arrested three Colombians with two suitcases that had $60,000 in cash hidden in a double bottom. The foreigners intended to travel to Brazil at the time of their capture at the Tocumen International Airport. (Critica)

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New Naval Air Station Will Be Built On Amador Causeway

Drug TraffickingTwo and a half months after officials from the Security Ministry denied the installation of a new naval air station on Isla Flamenco, on the Amador Causeway, yesterday the Minister Jose Raul Mulino confirmed its construction. He said the new base to be built on Flamenco is part of the four new naval bases that were not included in the original plan. The other three bases will be built in Chinina, in the district of Chepo, in Tonosí, and in the Ngäbe Buglé region.

In late July, this newspaper (La Estrella) reported that a new naval air base would be built on Flamenco Island, and in response Minister Mulino said it was only going to be a dry dock to raise and lower boats for repairs. Yesterday, reality changed. The new Naval Air Base at Flamenco will serve as the "Headquarters of the National Naval Air Service in the Pacific area," said Mullino.

The minister's remarks came during the presentation of the accountability report yesterday, which highlighted the decline in homicides in the country and the investments that have been made in security. A total of 18 naval bases (including the four new above) are being built at a cost of $134.7 million. "With this we wish to prevent, as indeed is being done, the flow of drugs from entering Panama," said Mullino. So far this year authorities have seized about 22 tons of drugs.

VIOLENT SOCIETY - Mulino, together with the heads of the various public safety entities, also stressed that through 30 September 2012 there have been 500 homicides in the country. The figure represents 70 cases less, compared with the same period of 2011. The districts of Panama and San Miguelito recorded the highest numbers of homicides, with a rate of 13.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. According to Mulino, homicides related to organized crime represent 24% of these cases, and 45% has been as a result of social conflict, which means that "we are a violent society."

During the presentation of the report it was revealed that today was the ceremony to lay the first stone of the construction of the radar center, and on Friday they will receive the new coast guard center. By the end of the year the first five radar sets will be installed in the country, of a total of 19 sets. (Estrella)

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New Anti Drug Radar Set Installation At Farallon

Drug TraffickingThe president, Ricardo Martinelli, said that with the installation of the radars that are part of the coastal security project, criminal activities related to drug trafficking will be reduced. He said the reduction is reflected the statistics on the number of crimes that have been committed in the country during his tenure. The president also thanked the Government of Italy for the donation of six boats to the Panamanian government, which will also help to combat drug trafficking.

He said the authorities have identified a new tactic being used by the drug traffickers, who are switching to smaller and faster boats, but with the help of radar sets being installed all along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, they will be easy to locate.

Meanwhile, the Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino, who also participated in the activity, said that despite the criticism that arose at the time over the acquisition of these radars, Panamanians will see the results between 2013 and 2014.

Martinelli participated in the ceremony of laying the first shovelful of dirt in Farallon, where one of the 19 new radar sets will be installed, acquired by the State from the company Selex.

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Two Arrested With 25 Kilos in Pacora

Drug TraffickingTwo Panamanians were arrested on the afternoon of Thursday October 4 by counter narcotics officers of the Judicial Investigation Department of the National Police. 25 packages of cocaine were seized from the detainees at a checkpoint located in Pacora, through monitoring and surveillance operation. According to reports, the subjects came from Chepo and the drug were detected in a false bottom of their gray Kia Skoda Octavia car. (Mi Diario)

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Colombian Gunned Down In El Cangrejo

Drug TraffickingA Colombian man was shot to death at 7:00 pm last night on "F Street" in El Cangrejo, Panama City. He was shot seven times, and his body was found in a Hyundai Accent with license plate number 990656. Apparently the victim dropped off a girl at an apartment building in the area, but he was being followed by the assassins. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: "Calle F" in El Cangrejo commonly appears on most maps of Panama City as "Ave. 4aB Norte". This is the street that runs from Via Argentina, up the hill towards Einstein's Head, towards the right past the New York Bagel Bakery, past the cake store (on the left) and the Casa de la Carne supermarket which is now closed because of the fire, then it continues down for one more block until you are forced to turn to the right by one way streets. "Calle F" continues on down the hill towards the ULACEX university, but if you're driving you can't go down that way because it becomes a one-way street coming up the hill. This is a part of town most of the members of the English speaking community of expatriates in Panama City will know relatively well. However, the initial description of this murder indicates it's most likely a hit associated with drug trafficking or some other sort of illegal activity. These are the kinds of crimes that occur in Panama almost every day, and simultaneously it's worth noting they almost never splash over to affect the expat community, because few gringos are stupid enough to get involved in those types of activities.

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The Version Of The Ramón Ricardo Martinelli Corro Case in Mexico

Drug TraffickingVery little is known about what happened that November 20, 2009 when Ramón Ricardo Martinelli Corro was arrested in Mexico on charges of alleged money laundering, the product of drug trafficking.

The file in the Martinelli Corro case is a mystery. The Public Ministry of Panama says there are no details on the progress of the criminal proceedings against the cousin of the President. Nothing has been known of Martinelli Corro so far.

An exclusive report obtained by La Estrella revealed previously unknown details about the case against Ramón Martinelli Corro in Mexico.

Arrested in the second maximum security prison in the Aztec country, the president's cousin is awaiting the decision of a judge. From Puerto Grande, the Jalisco prison Martinelli Corro is being held, together with the Panamanian Jorge Álvarez Cummings, he has not left. Nor has he talked to the other inmates in the prison. He just just talks to his lawyer and the court officials in Mexico who have pursued the case against him. Sitting in his cell, completely isolated from the outside world, Martinelli Corro is waiting for the judge's decision. A decision could come at any moment and decide the guilt or innocence of the Panamanian president's cousin. (more)

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Canadian Sandra Mallon Sentenced To 80 Months in Prison For International Drug Trafficking

Drug Trafficking By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Remember the case of Sandra Mallon? She was arrested at the Tocumen International Airport with 1.6 kilos of cocaine hidden under her clothing. She tried to smuggle it through, got patted down, got caught. After she was arrested she convinced friends and family members in Quebec to raise money for her for her legal defense fund. She was claiming she was innocent, she had done nothing wrong, the Panamanian system was corrupt, etc. Then when I went down to the courthouse and saw her file - there she was, photos of her taken at the airport sitting behind the cocaine she had in her possession when she was busted. Her fundraising came to a sudden stop.

Update: Today I was up at the courthouse, and I stopped in to check on her case. She was convicted and sentenced to 120 months. That sentence was reduced to 80 months (six years, eight months) because she basically pleaded guilty and didn't try to mount a prolonged defense, claim she was innocent, or anything like that. These numbers are practically standard sentences handed out to those who are caught red handed trying to smuggle cocaine. So let's see - Sandra Mallon was busted in August 2009 so she's already done more than three years in prison. And, she will be there until about April 2016. End of story.

Related Articles:

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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25 Kilos Seized on Upper Coast of Colon Province

Drug TraffickingAbout 25 kilos of suspected cocaine were seized by authorities in the area known as La Guaira in the Costa Arriba of Colon. In this case two people have been arrested for investigation, because they were there at the time of seizure. Officials said through an operation they observed several strange packages in a vehicle, so they proceeded with the arrests and the seizure was made. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: 25 kilos has a wholesale value in Panama of $112,500 dollars. It's worth $650,000 wholesale in the US, and $2.5 million retail, cut and delivered on the street.

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Police Lieutenant Arrested In 406 Kilo Bust

Drug TraffickingThe National Police confirmed the seizure of 406 kilos of cocaine as part of "Operation Judas" in the district of Chepo. Seven people were arrested during this police operation, including four Colombians and three Panamanians. One of the Panamanians arrested is a Lieutenant in the National Police, with 26 years of service in the institution. The National Police is investigating the participation of this police officer through an internal process. Additionally, three vehicles were seized during the operation.

It was also reported that some other citizens who were transporting green peppers in a pickup truck were briefly detained, but they were later released when it was determined they were not implicated in the drug trafficking. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: 406 kilos of cocaine would have an approximate wholesale value of $1.8 million dollars in Panama, at $4,500 per kilo. This same load would have a wholesale value of about $10.5 million in the United States, once it gets there. Retail value on the street, cut, line per line, of about $40 million.

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Another 100 Kilos Busted At Guabala Checkpoint in Chiriqui

Drug TraffickingOne hundred kilos of cocaine were seized Friday morning September 21, at the Guabala checkpoint in the eastern province of Chiriqui. The seizure was carried out by agents of the Department of Police Information (DPI) of the National Police, through a routine check.

The Deputy Commissioner, Jorge Alexis Espinoza, of the Chiriqui police, said during the action one person was arrested, a resident of the area of Cabuya in Tocumen, Panama Province, who is 31 years old. The subject was driving a gray Suzuki microbus with registration number 419542, and the drugs were hidden in a false bottom. The seizure of the drugs and the field test was ordered by Ms Diaz Janella Montenegro, of the office of the Anti Drug Prosecutor in the province of Chiriqui. Both the drugs and the suspect were turned over to prosecutors, who continues to investigate this traffic. (Estrella)

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234 Kilos of Cocaine Busted At Guabala Checkpoint

Drug TraffickingGuabala, Chiriquí. - A total of 234 kilos of cocaine were detected and seized by narcotics agents of the National Police at the Guabala checkpoint, on Wednesday, September 20. In the operation police officers arrested a Panamanian from Chiriqui who was driving a truck that had been modified, with a false double bottom. Luis Navarro, the Deputy Commissioner of the Police Zone of Chiriqui, said thanks to the insight of the police officers on the scene, they were able to detect the cargo, which was hidden in a false bottom of the vehicle. The drugs and the suspect were turned over to prosecutors. (Prensa)

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140 Kilos of Cocaine Busted in Coclé

Drug TraffickingA 38 year old man was detained by the Narcotics Department of the National Police, after the execution of "Operation Leña" (firewood) in conjunction with the Anti Drug Prosecutor's Office. This operation was carried out on Wednesday in the community of Rio Hato, in Anton, Cocle, during which 140 kilos of drugs were seized. The goods were in the back of a pick-up truck that was moving towards the interior from the capital of Panama City. Today, the suspect will be presented before the investigating judge to verify the apprehension, to file the charges against him, and to request preventative measures, which due to the severity of the case could be provisional detention. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: Cool. They obviously had this guy under surveillance from the time he left Panama City. But they decided to bust him in the province of Coclé, and as a result he will be tried under the new "accusatory" system which is much, much faster. In Panama City, those detained on drug charges can sit in prison for two years or more, awaiting trial. It looks like under the new system this dude will be done in a few weeks. Light speed, by comparison. And, getting caught red handed with 140 kilos of cocaine in the back of your pickup truck helps to speed things along somewhat.

What's It Worth: I was talking to a guy in La Joya recently who got busted for international drug trafficking. He says a kilo of cocaine in Panama City costs about $4,500 so these 140 kilos have a value - here - of $630,000. But in the United States they can be sold for $26,000 each for a US wholesale value of $3.64 million.

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SENAN Busts 65 Kilos On An Island In Province of Colon

Drug TraffickingSome 65 kilos of suspected cocaine were seized by units of the National Naval Air Service (SENAN) on the coast of the province of Colon. According to the commissioner Belsio Gonzalez, the drugs were found on Isla Largo Remo in Colon, in a 20 foot long boat. According to Gonzalez the subjects who were aboard the boat jumped into the water to escape when they saw the SENAN officers, and they could not catch the two men, however they did manage to seize the drugs. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Have you ever noticed that very frequently when there's a large drug bust like this in Panama, the guys who were in the boat magically seem to get away, every time? On the surface it would seem these guys are probably traveling with a wad of cash, which they hand over in order to be allowed to "escape."

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SENAFRONT Arrested Four "Narco Guerrillas" Near Colombian Border

Drug TraffickingPanama's State Border Service (SENAFRONT) captured four alleged Colombian "narco-guerrillas" in an indigenous region near the border with Colombia, said a source today from that agency. SENAFRONT Commissioner, Frank Abrego, said the four so-called "narco-guerrillas" whose names were not revealed, were arrested at the site of Chucurtí, in the indigenous region of Kuna Yala. The head of the Panamanian border police said they seized two packages of dried grass appearing to be marijuana from the four who were captured, as well as military equipment such as clothing, backpacks and ponchos. Abrego said the SENAFRONT agents also spotted a coca plantation measuring about one hectare in size, located about 500 meters from the border on the Colombian side, so they reported the situation to the Colombian authorities. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Panama is now doing a much better job of getting out there in the bush and chasing down the drug traffickers who frequently use the jungle area in the Darien and the Guna Yala to move drugs. During the years of the administration of Martin Torrijos, they basically left them alone and were afraid to go after them. Martinelli and the SENAFRONT are now much more active in getting out there to hunt them down.

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Alameda-based Coast Guard crew seizes two tons of smuggled cocaine off Panama coast

Drug TraffickingThe U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau based in Alameda returned to the San Diego Naval Base today from a months-long counter-drug patrol in international waters of the coast of Central America with two tons of cocaine, a U.S. Coast Guard petty officer said.

The 378-foot cutter will return to Alameda in a few weeks, but not before the Morgenthau crew finishes offloading two tons of cocaine at the San Diego base today and participates in Fleet Week activities in the San Diego area this weekend, 1st Class Petty Officer Henry Dunphy said.

The 4,100 pounds of cocaine was seized about 125 miles south of Panama on July 24, Dunphy said.

Crewmembers detained four suspected smugglers after a patrol aircraft spotted a go-fast boat crew jettisoning packages into the water. (mercurynews.com)

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Former Army captain admits part in heroin smuggling

Drug TraffickingWritten by Sean O’Sullivan - The News Journal - WILMINGTON — A West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Capt. Saleem A. Sharif admitted in federal court Thursday to being involved in a heroin smuggling operation that funneled drugs from Afghanistan to the streets of Wilmington.

Sharif pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import more than 100 grams of heroin into the U.S. and possession with the intent to distribute. He now faces a minimum four years in prison and up 80 years behind bars, though a guideline sentence would be between 11 and 16 years of incarceration.

Sharif, 35, of Johns Island, S.C., also agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty though District Judge Richard A. Andrews could impose a fine of up to $10 million at sentencing in January.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert F. Kravetz charged that Sharif, who was working as a military contractor in Kabul specializing in communications, arranged to smuggle more than 2.5 kilograms of heroin from Afghanistan to the United States through a co-defendant who lived near Fort Hood in Texas.

According to federal officials, the drugs were concealed in shrink-wrapped DVD cases for television shows like True Blood and Spartacus.

From the Fort Hood area, the drugs made their way to Delaware through an organization operated by Rolondo Edmund, who also was using couriers to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. from Panama, according to prosecutors. Edmund admitted to drug trafficking charges in June and is awaiting sentencing.

Sharif was arrested in April outside the Wilmington Amtrak station as part of a federal sting operation where he was caught with 115 grams of heroin.

U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III said Sharif, “violated the trust of his country and his uniform.”

Sharif’s attorney, Luis Ortiz, declined comment outside court.

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Two Brothers Arrested in the Darien With 316 Kilos of FARC Cocaine

Drug TraffickingTwo Panamanian brothers were arrested with 316 packets of cocaine on Isla Cedro, in the Darien. "It is possible that both detainees are related to a cartel of the FARC," said Frank Abrego, Director of the State Border Service. The 316 packages of cocaine were within 16 sacks and were abandoned by the brothers, after the wooden "cayuco" (dugout canoe) in which they were traveling ran aground on the island, and they tried to escape.

In another action, residents reported that between the communities of Pinogana and Yavisa police officers found an additional 21 packages of cocaine that was part of the 115 packages that had been found the week before. (Mi Diario)

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Police Officer Arrested For Drug Trafficking

Drug TraffickingA Corporal in the National Police in Chiriqui was arrested Tuesday afternoon for allegedly being linked to the seizure of 31 kilos of cocaine that were hidden in a suitcase, two boxes and a plastic bag aboard two vehicles from Panama City. The seizure was made at 5:30 pm in the district of San Félix when the drivers of the vehicles attempted to circumvent the checkpoint located in the sector of Guabala. The cars were being driven by a Costa Rican man and a Panamanian from the province of Veraguas. The men fled leaving abandoned vehicles in the sector of Galique. Then began a chase that ended at 9:30 pm with the arrest of the two men. After they were arrested the police officer was acting suspiciously. Apparently, the police officer was driving a third car that passed through the control checkpoint, with the intention of informing the other two on the level of security in the area. Luis Navarro, Acting Chief of Police Zone of Chiriqui, explained when they conducted a visual inspection of the car, they found the illegal substance. It tested positive as cocaine in a field test. (Siglo)

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Two Busted With Ten Packages Of "Crispy"

Drug TraffickingA Panamanian couple was arrested by officers from the Directorate of Police Information (DPI) and the National Police for allegedly trafficking ten packets of the illicit substance known as "Crispy." The suspects are Ubaldina Moreno, 36, and Jorge Reynaldo Renteria, 26. According to the report of the National Police, the seizure occurred after a follow-up operation was conducted in the commercial center of Villa Lucre, in the village José Domingo Espinar, in the district of San Miguelito.

The couple was traveling in a taxi with license plate number RI-9102 when they were arrested. They were immediately asked what was inside the car, and both denied that there was any illicit substance. After waiting for several hours, investigators from the Office of the Anti Drug Prosecutor searched the car, and found the illegal substance: ten packets hidden in a black bag.

The detainees live in the neighborhoods of Cerro Cocobolo and Samaria, in the areas of Arnulfo Arias Madrid and Belisario Porras respectively.

The Deputy Police Commissioner Flores, who is the Chief of Police in the area, said they are conducting operations to prevent crimes from being committed in the area, or to at least decrease the amount of crime. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: "Crispy" is a relatively new drug, made from a mixture of marijuana buds and cocaine, which is smoked. It's popular in the local market and common on the streets.

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Local "Justice of the Peace" Busted With Drugs In The House

Drug TraffickingDuring the last hours the National Police in La Chorrera seized drugs, a gun, cash, and arrested one man and a woman. The woman who was arrested is the local Justice of the Peace (Corregidora) of Playa Leona in La Chorrera, Yohana Gordón, who allegedly had six packages of drugs in her house, four with marijuana and two with cocaine, according to the National Police. That operation took place in the evening hours of Monday at a house in El Marañonal, where the official resides. Previously, the woman, who is a lawyer by profession, had worked in the Regional office of the MIDES in La Chorrera, a police source said. Meanwhile, in another operation, the police seized money, a gun and drugs from a 40 year old suspect. That action also took place in La Chorrera. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Great. The local judge is a drug dealer. Now, do you think anyone will go back to review or audit her recent decisions? This is the person who authorizes and recognizes Rights of Possession documents for example. Are there any documents with her signature on them in the ANATI? Is anyone going to check? This is just one low level example of how drugs and drug money is and will be penetrating the Panamanian government.

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SENAN Raided Two Houses On Saboga Island, Four Arrested

Drug TraffickingNational Naval Air Service Units and authorities from Saboga island in the archipelago of Las Perlas, arrested nine people, including two children, during a raid on two residences. The incident occurred after SENAN authorities intervened in a fight among members of that community, because tempers were running high, and they feared for the effect on third parties, according to the National Naval Air Service. One of those involved fled and entered a residence and therefore, the authorities ordered the raid on the house. In the house, officers found 102 straws filled with a suspected illicit substance, two bags of suspected cocaine and a package of marijuana. In the other residence in the sector four people were arrested, two of them minors, who had a pellet gun. (TVN)
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Foreigner Busted in Chiriqui With A Quarter Of A Million Dollars in Cash and Checks

Drug TraffickingThe Customs Authority seized yesterday more than $100,000 in cash and another $140,000 in checks written out to third parties from a Costa Rican citizen, which were not declared. It was learned the foreigner was about to enter the national territory aboard a tour bus, when he was caught by the authorities. Abdiel Lezcano, the Customs Administrator in Chiriquí, said the foreigner had only declared $1,000 in cash upon entering the country, and later during a search at the control point in San Isidro in Bugaba, the rest of the money and checks were found. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: In Panama, the drugs go North, and the money comes South.

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Police Arrest Four, Seize 117 Kilos of Cocaine in Gorgona

Drug TraffickingNational Police officers arrested four people and confiscated 117 kilos of cocaine in the town of Gorgona in the district of Chame on Friday, 7 September 2012. The seizure comes as the result of a surveillance and monitoring operation, and an investigation of the house where the illegal substance was found. During the operation a police chase occurred when the suspects tried to flee, but they lost control of the car, which fell into a ditch, and thus they were arrested. (Telemetro)

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SENAFRONT Seized 115 Packages of Cocaine In The Darien

Drug TraffickingPanama's State Border Service (SENAFRONT) seized 115 packages of cocaine found in the communities of Pinogana and Yaviza in the province of the Darien on Wednesday morning. The SENAFRONT said they would be holding a press conference to provide more details about this seizure. (Mi Diario)
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Police Raid Houses in Paraíso For Suspected Drugs

Drug TraffickingOperating on Calle H in Paraíso, the National Police took the area because there have been many complaints that there were drugs in several houses. The entity informs the community they will continue operating to seize weapons, drugs and to arrest those who are being sought by the justice system, so they asked the public to continue to report crimes. (Dia a Dia)

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US Southern Command Explains Anti Drug Trafficking Strategy

Drug TraffickingThe penetration by drug traffickers, which has been a headache for the police and security agencies around the world, has also happened in Panama, and in Colombia the border police and national police are being instructed by the Southern Command, who train in the Darien to fight against narco-terrorism. These revelations of what the underworld of drug trafficking has caused at all levels, and what is known about what is happening in Panama, was explained by the Southern Command in a journalistic tour of their headquarters in Miami and Key West, Florida, where they have logistics centers.

Panama is considered to be the most important country in the region in terms of strategy, because it is considered to be a "funnel" for drug traffickers. The effectiveness of the interceptions and seizures of tons of drugs has led the joint forces to consider Panama to be the second most important point in drugs that are being trafficked from South America through Mexico to the United States. These revelations are part of the cooperation being made between the United States and Panama, because the drugs that come mostly from Colombia have invaded the northern nation, with some 85% of drugs going into that final destination.

In 2011, the U.S. budget to counter the effects of the drug trade was $25 billion dollars. About 90% of the drugs passing through Central America at this time have Honduras as their first destination. There is an assistance to the maritime forces from Central American countries, and the Southern Command has focused on areas of mutual interest. On the situation in Honduras, they have reached out and there are binational actions between Panama and Honduras, said the Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino.

The Panamanian authorities have had to consolidate in binational actions, because the Northern coast of the province of Veraguas and the coast of Bocas del Toro have been used as "stashes" where drug traffickers hide the packages of drugs that are being moved to Honduras. Mulino announced Panama will open new Naval Air Stations in the area, further hindering the activities of drug traffickers. Recently one ton of cocaine was seized off the coast of Veraguas, in the international operation called "Martillo."

Cities penetrated - The passage of drugs through Central America means 40% of all the cocaine produced and 50% of methamphetamine reaches North America. Drug use has been reduced by over a third in recent years. In the United States 1,200 cities are being penetrated by the Mexican cartels.

Scott Latimer, a Lieutenant Colonel of Public Security Assistance of the United States, said there is an effort on the part of his country to provide and cooperate with the government of Panama in public safety, through the State Department and the U.S. Southern Command.

Matt Spencer, counternarcotics planning analyst, said there is help in training, infrastructure construction, devices, boats, and equipment for the forces of the State Border Service and the Naval Air Service of Panama. The Defense Department has spent between $5 and $6 million dollars in Panama for training and infrastructure. Right now they are working in Puerto Piña in the pier in La Palma in the Darién, on Isla Coco, and on the new SENAFRONT operations center in Gamboa, where there is new infrastructure.

The Southern Command spokesmen said between 2011 and 2012 the United States has contributed $2 million dollars in security assistance to help fight drug trafficking in Panama. A third facet is education and training, which amounts to $750,000 dollars. One program that was developed was police training between Colombia and Panama, in the Darien, with a specialized jungle unit. All of the money spent on these kinds of bilateral contributions are checked in a coordinated manner by the State Department. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Cool. Finally. For the longest time, the government of Panama refused to acknowledge that the government of the United States was funding the construction of the new Anti Drug outposts being built all along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. In Panama there's a knee-jerk reaction against any possibility that the US military might return to open a base someday. There's no problem with TDY troops - Panamanians generally like the US military in general terms. However the subject of bases is politically sensitive. The US spends $25 billion dollars per year to fight drug trafficking? Really? Ah, OK. Want to know where every dime goes? Then read this report. Most budgets are increasing from 2012 to 2013. When I was in the military, we used to call the war on drugs the "war of last resort." In other words, when we didn't have an "real" bad guys to shoot at, there were always the drug traffickers as a fall-back position. So as the war on terrorism is being drawn down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on drugs will be ramped back up. Not the first time...

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Panamanian Busted In Costa Rica With Drugs And Weapons

Drug TraffickingThe Drug Control Police (PCD) of Costa Rica, in coordination with officers of the security forces, arrested a Panamanian last Wednesday with drugs and weapons, said a press release from the Ministry of Public Security of Costa Rica. According to the report, the arrest occurred at the checkpoint in Yarda, on the Southern Pan American Highway, in Osa, when the 31 year old Panamanian with the last names of Bartley Varsallo, together with a 24 year old Costa Rican with the last names of Valverde Mena, were traveling in a Nissan Sentra with license plate number 624613. Authorities seized two firearms and a kilo of cocaine from the men, says the press release. (Mi Diario)
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