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Sunday, October 22 2017 @ 06:46 PM EDT

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Defendant Who Sold Rocket-Propelled Launchers to FARC to Shoot US Aircraft Sentenced

Panama NewsPreet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that IOANNIS VIGLAKIS, a/k/a “Pablo,” was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 120 months for attempting to provide material support to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (“FARC”), a Colombian terrorist organization.

VIGLAKIS, who was arrested in Panama City, Panama, in August 2012 and subsequently turned over to the custody of the United States, pled guilty on December 10, 2013, to attempting to provide material support to the FARC, which has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Secretary of State. VIGLAKIS pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, who also imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Ioannis Viglakis attempted to sell military-grade weapons to the FARC, a terrorist organization, which has used such weapons to shoot down American aircraft in Colombia. For attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization in this way, Viglakis has been sentenced to 120 months in prison.”

According to the Indictment, other public filings in this case, and statements made at VIGLAKIS’s guilty plea and at today’s sentencing:

Beginning in November 2011, VIGLAKIS had a series of meetings with a DEA confidential source (the “CS”) who represented himself as an associate of the FARC. During those meetings, which took place in Europe and Central America, the CS informed VIGLAKIS that he was seeking weapons for use by the FARC to attack American forces in Colombia. VIGLAKIS offered to provide the FARC with functional, bona fide, military-grade weapons – including assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade (“RPG”) launchers and surface-to-air missiles – in exchange for cocaine and cash. During the meetings, VIGLAKIS and the CS discussed the FARC’s use of these weapons to fight the Colombian and American governments, including by shooting down American aircraft in Colombia.

Over the following months, VIGLAKIS indicated that he would provide the CS with several RPG launchers as a sample. On July 18, 2012, VIGLAKIS successfully arranged for the delivery of six live RPGs and three working RPG launchers in Europe, which were received by a DEA undercover agent.

Then, in August 2012, during meetings in Panama, VIGLAKIS gave the CS approximately 8,500 euros as a partial payment to the FARC to transport a multi-kilogram shipment of cocaine to Spain on his behalf, and further offered to provide the CS with approximately 200 hand grenades in exchange for additional kilograms of cocaine.

In addition to his prison term, VIGLAKIS, 54, a citizen of Greece, was to pay a $100 special assessment fee.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the Special Operations Division of the DEA, as well as the DEA’s Panama Country Office, Madrid Country Office, and Copenhagen Country Office. Mr. Bharara also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and National Security Division, the U.S. Department of State, and the Government of the Republic of Panama.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian R. Everdell, Aimee Hector, and Michael Lockard are in charge of the prosecution. (lawfuel.com)

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Juan Carlos Varela Will Travel To Vatican To Meet The Pope

Panama NewsPope Francis will receive Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela in an audience next Friday, September 5th, the Vatican confirmed Monday. (more)

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Homeland Security Meets With President Varela

Panama NewsThe president, Juan Carlos Varela, met with a delegation from the Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America. (more)

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Colombia Asks Costa Rica To Deport María del Pilar Hurtado (If They Find Her)

Panama NewsColombia's Foreign Ministry today formally requested the Government of Costa Rica to search for and deport Maria del Pilar Hurtado, who is accountable to the Colombian Justice system for a web of espionage which occurred while she was the chief of intelligence. (more)

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16 Nations conducting PANAMAX 2014 exercise

Panama NewsMIAMI -- PANAMAX 2014, an annual U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-sponsored multinational exercise focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, will take place Aug. 8-14 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

SOUTHCOM and Marine Corps Forces South personnel, headquartered in Miami, as well as personnel at Navy Forces South in Mayport Naval Station, Jacksonville, Fla., and Air Forces Southern at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., are among the U.S. participants taking part in the exercise.

Sixteen additional nations will join the U.S. during the seven-day exercise and use simulations to command and control multinational sea, air, land, cyber and land forces defending the vital waterway and surrounding areas against threats from violent extremism, natural disasters, and pandemic outbreaks.

Participating nations this year include Brazil, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States.

PANAMAX has evolved over the years and now includes training for many of the 21st-century threats encountered in today’s land, sea, air and cyber environments.

The exercise aims to increase the ability of nations to work together, enable assembled forces to organize as a multination task force and test their responsiveness in combined operations.

This year’s mostly-simulated exercise will include the use of a B-52 to support maritime detection and monitoring, the first time in three years a live military asset is employed during exercise scenarios.

The Panama Canal is considered one of the most strategically and economically crucial pieces of infrastructure in the world. Six-percent of the world’s trade travels through the Panama Canal every year, accounting for roughly 400 million tons of goods. It is crucial to the free flow of trade worldwide, and the region’s economic stability is largely dependent on the safe transport of several million tons of cargo through the canal each year.

U.S. Southern Command is one of the nation’s six geographically-focused, unified commands with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. (Press Release)

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Panama Guide Featured On New Investigation Discovery Program "Murder in Paradise"

Panama News By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - The Investigation Discovery channel will air a new episode entitled "Murder in Paradise - Shallow Grave" at 10:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Saturday August 9th, 2014.

This program focuses on the confessed serial killer William Dathan Holbert, a.k.a. "Wild Bill" and his partner in crime Laura Michelle Reese.

The description for the program, taken from Discovery ID's website and schedule reads: "A haven for ex-pats off the coast of Panama turns into a place of horror when American Cher Hughes’ disappearance ultimately reveals a cold-blooded killer with a deadly past and a ruthless penchant for real estate."

Investigation Discovery (ID) is an American television network owned by Discovery Communications that features documentary-style programming dealing with true crime subjects, including criminal investigations (primarily homicides), forensics, and other crime-related documentaries.

As of August 2013, approximately 84,289,000 American households (73.81% of households with television) receive Investigation Discovery.

If you're not sure where to find the Investigation Discovery program in your area, you can use this Channel Finder service available on their website.

Editor's Comment: I worked as a Discovery Channel consultant for this program, and sat for them in an extensive interview. I have not yet seen the finished product myself and will be receiving a copy of the program on DVD in the next few weeks.

Thankfully this pair of sociopaths and serial killers will remain in prison for the rest of their natural lives - as it should be.

Try to catch the program when it airs, if you can.

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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UN sanctions operator of North Korean weapons ship seized by Panama

Panama NewsUNITED NATIONS – The United Nations imposed sanctions on the North Korean shipping company that operates a ship seized by Panama in July 2013 for carrying undeclared military equipment from Cuba ordered all countries to freeze its assets.

The Security Council committee monitoring sanctions on North Korea announced late Monday that it had added Ocean Maritime Management Company, Ltd., which is headquartered in Pyongyang and operates the vessel Chong Chon Gang, to its sanctions blacklist.

Panamanian authorities stopped the Chong Chon Gang as it tried to enter the Panama Canal because they suspected it was transporting drugs. Instead, they found two Cuban fighter jets in perfect condition, missiles and live munitions beneath its cargo of sugar.

The committee said it imposed sanctions on Ocean Maritime Management because "it played a key role in arranging the shipment of concealed cargo of arms and related materiel" in violation of a U.N. arms embargo imposed against Pyongyang in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power accused Cuba and North Korea of "a cynical, outrageous and illegal attempt ... to circumvent United Nations sanctions prohibiting the export of weapons to North Korea."

She said that imposing a global asset freeze on Ocean Maritime Management means that the company will no longer be able to operate internationally.

Imposing sanctions on the shipping company "sends an important message to the companies directly involved in violations of U.N. sanctions regimes: we will find you and hold you accountable," Power said in a statement.

In June, a Panamanian judge absolved the captain and two other officers of charges stemming from the seizure of the ship and freed them, saying the issue of whether the ship violated the U.N. arms embargo against North Korea was not a matter for Panama to decide. The court ruled that the weapons and other equipment should be turned over to Panamanian authorities.

The ship's other 32 sailors were allowed to sail the vessel back to North Korea in February after the owner paid a $700,000 fine.

Power said the United States remains concerned about attempts by North Korea to circumvent international sanctions and will remain "vigilant" in enforcing Security Council sanctions.

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Attorney General Says Immigration Can Arrest And Deport Hurtado Back To Colombia

Panama NewsThe former head of the Administrative Department of Security of Colombia (DAS), Maria del Pilar Hurtado, could be deported, given that her immigration status is illegal in Panama, said Panama's Attorney General Ana Belfon. (more)

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PARLACEN Deputies Might Challenge Martinelli's Swearing-In

Panama NewsThe Central American Parliament Deputy Dorindo Cortez said Tuesday on RPC Radio they might nullify the inauguration of former President Ricardo Martinelli. (more)

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2 Colombian guerrillas die in shootout with Panamanian police

Panama NewsTwo suspected Colombian guerrillas were killed and two others were wounded in a shootout with Panama's Senafront border security force, authorities reported Thursday.

Several gunbattles occurred last weekend between police and a group of armed irregulars in three different locations in a town located 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the mouth of the Pito River, in the Guna Yala district, very close to the Colombian border, said Senafront in a communique.

During the police action, which concluded on Wednesday, authorities arrested six Colombians, including the two wounded men, seizing from them two assault rifles, a shotgun, two .38 revolvers and ammunition of various calibers.

Senafront provided no further details about either the dead rebels or the captured ones.

It also reported that authorities had seized 400 kilos of cocaine, arrested 14 Panamanian citizens and seized four pistols during another operation conducted in the community of Clarita, in Chepo district east of the capital.

The arrested people and the drugs were turned over to prosecutors. (EFE)

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