Colombia and Panama Strengthen Borders Against Drugs

Colombia and Panama Strengthen Borders Against Drugs

By Yolima Dussán/Diálogo
May 19, 2020

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The security forces of Colombia and Panama have increased surveillance operations along their borders in an effort to disrupt illicit drug trafficking.

On April 22, in two multinational operations conducted in Panama with the United States and Colombia, authorities seized 2,193 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, worth $73 million.

The Panamanian National Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) and the U.S. Coast Guard carried out the first operation, in the Tubualá region, and seized 1,243 kg of cocaine hydrochloride, SENAN reported. Thanks to Colombian intelligence, during the second operation, authorities seized a motorboat in the Isla de Pinos area with 950 kg of cocaine hydrochloride on board, SENAN added.

On April 18, the Colombian Navy’s Pacific Naval Force reported that it had intercepted a vessel carrying 1.2 tons of cocaine hydrochloride valued at $40 million in Putumayo department, near the border with Ecuador and Peru. The drug belonged to the remnant organized armed group E-30. Also in Putumayo on April 17, in four joint operations with the Colombian Army, service members destroyed four laboratories and seized cocaine processing supplies, the Navy reported.

“We are in constant communication with Ecuador and Peru to discuss border control issues. COVID-19 makes us redouble our efforts,” Colombian Marine Corps Brigadier General Sergio Alfredo Serrano Álvarez, commander of the Southern Naval Force, told Diálogo. “We destroy drug production labs on a daily basis.”

The Colombian presidency reported that troops of the Colombian Army’s 26th Jungle Brigade have been carrying out operations in Amazonas department since April 4.

“With so much international demand, they are trying to move a large amount of drugs through the San Miguel River, on the border with Ecuador; along the Putumayo River, on the borders with Ecuador and Peru; and through the Amazon, on our border with Brazil and Peru,” said Brig. Gen. Serrano. “They [narcotraffickers] want to get on with business, but we won’t stop, no matter what.”

In Tumaco, on the border with Ecuador, the Colombian Military Forces’ General Command reported on April 24 the destruction of a mega complex for cocaine hydrochloride production.

The complex, which belonged to the United Guerrillas of the Pacific, consisted of eight facilities spread throughout 1 kilometer, with the capacity to produce 6 tons of cocaine monthly, valued at $200 million, the General Command added.

“Inside the facilities, we found 1 ton of cocaine base, 4.3 tons of solid supplies, 3,575 gallons of liquid supplies, 390 gallons of basic coca paste, and more than 1 ton of cocaine hydrochloride,” Colombian Army Brigadier General Álvaro Javier Pérez Durán, commander of the Hercules Joint Stabilization and Consolidation Task Force, told the press.