PANAMA CITY, Panama – Authorities seized about eight tons of cocaine during a 24-hour period. The National Aeronaval Service (Senan) found about five tons of the narcotic near the Belén River a day after discovering three tons of cocaine hidden along the Caribbean coast, a Senan spokesman said. “[The] 4,926 packets of cocaine were seized at the mouth of the Belén River [near the port city of] Colón, but there are no detainees,” Vladimir Rodríguez said, according to EFE. The confiscations, which were made based on a tip by the Colombian military that spotted a suspicious vessel, mark the biggest narcotics seizures in the country’s history and raised the amount of narcotics seized nationally this year to 80 tons. “Senan alone has seized 19 tons of drugs with the last quarter of 2010 still to come, and has already exceeded the 17 tons confiscated last year,” Rodríguez said, according to EFE. The cocaine was taken to the Vasco Núñez de Balboa aeronaval base.
Colombian authorities seize 136 kilograms of cocaine
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The Colombian military arrested three and seized 136 kilograms (299 pounds) of cocaine on a boat in the Caribbean Sea, officials said. The narcotic was hidden underneath benches on the ship “La Gracia de Dios II,” which was intercepted 40 miles offshore from the city of Cartagena during a joint operation by the navy, air force and the counter-narcotics police. The cocaine had a street value of US$3.5 million, officials said, according to the Colombian news website El Colombiano.com.
Guatemalan officials dismantle suspected drug ring
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – An enterprise that allegedly smuggled narcotics and cash among Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama through the collaboration of attorneys, police officers and public officials has been dismantled, Guatemalan officials said. “So far we have captured 32 people out of a total of 45 who have been identified as members of this group,” a spokesperson for the Guatemalan Attorney General's Office said during a media conference, according to EFE. The 13 being sought are prosecutors or police officers, the spokesperson added. The suspects are facing drug trafficking, money laundering, criminal conspiracy, murder and obstruction of justice charges, officials said. José Alejandro Véliz Domínguez, the suspected leader of the syndicate, allegedly paid US$400 to those who smuggled cash to Panama where it would be laundered in the country’s banks, investigators said. The smugglers then allegedly went to Nicaragua, where they would pick up shipments of narcotics bound for Guatemala. The criminal organization was dismantled after an eight-month investigation that included wiretaps, surveillance, scrutiny of bank documents and the searching of 70 residences, according to Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office.
Brazil: Police confiscate 200 kilograms of marijuana
BRASÍLIA, Brazil – Police arrested two and seized 200 kilograms (441 pounds) of marijuana from a parked vehicle in the city of Alexânia in the state of Goiás, marking the second-largest confiscation of the crop this year. Wanderley Camargo Arinos de Oliveira, 21, and Heber Henrique Rebolho Custódio, 22, were arrested and are facing five to 15 years in prison if they are convicted of interstate narcotics trafficking. The men are suspected of transporting the drug to the Federal District, according to officials with the counter-narcotics police (CORD). “Last week we burned 1,800 kg (3,968 pounds) of drugs, which included 1,200 kg (2,645 pounds) of marijuana,”said João Emílio de Oliveira, CORD’s coordinator, according to the Brazilian website Correiobraziliense.com.br.
Brazil: Police seize 520 kilograms of marijuana in Mato Grosso do Sul
BRASÍLIA, Brazil – Federal Police seized 520 kilograms (1,146 pounds) of marijuana found hidden in a vehicle during a traffic stop in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Police arrested the 23-year-old driver of the vehicle who said he was paid by a Paraguayan trafficker to deliver the load to the state capital of Campo Grande.