Costa Rica and Panama Agree to Work Together against Organized Crime

Costa Rica and Panama Agree to Work Together against Organized Crime

By Dialogo
May 04, 2015





Costa Rica and Panama, enacting an agreement the two countries arrived at in February, are working together to fight organized crime and drug trafficking along their 330-kilometer shared border.

Security officials from both countries have set up a joint task force as part of a broad effort to improve security in the region. Since neither has an Army, police forces from both nations are boosting their capacity through cooperation, a strategy agreed to at the earlier meeting in the Panamanian city of Bocas del Toro. Their cooperation involves both information sharing and the development of a joint border force, Costa Rican Security Minister Gustavo Mata and Public Force Director Juan José Andrade told Diálogo
.

Sharing information


Sharing information is a key component of the joint effort. Under the agreement, security forces from Costa Rica and Panama share intelligence, data, and police radio communications in real time.

“It’s no secret that both Costa Rica and Panama are passing zones, whether by land or by sea” for drug traffickers said Mata, who is a former Deputy Director of the Judicial Investigation Unit (OIJ, for its Spanish acronym) – or Judicial Police. For years, drug traffickers and other criminals who operate at the Costa Rica-Panama border have evaded capture by simply crossing from one country into the next. Information sharing will help officials identify fugitives and track their movements.

Follow-up meetings are scheduled


A bilateral meeting is tentatively scheduled for September, during which officials from Costa Rica and Panama will discuss how the bilateral efforts are going.

The September gathering will be one of a series of follow-up meetings officials from both countries have scheduled, Andrade said during a separate interview with Diálogo.
These meetings will be held every six months, alternating between both countries. The first was scheduled to occur in April in the southern Costa Rican border city of Ciudad Neily, to fine-tune the issues of border control, information exchange, intelligence sharing, and combined land action.

Honduran Security Minister General Julián Pacheco was among the officials who discussed these issues during the February bilateral meeting. Several security analysts from Colombia, including former Colombian National Police Chief General Rosso José Serrano, also participated in the gathering.

Pacheco – a former head of the Bureau of Strategic Information of the Armed Forces and the Bureau of State Intelligence and Investigation – organized a regional meeting that took place in March in Honduras. In addition to Central American, Chilean, Colombian, and Ecuadorean authorities, U.S. officials participated, including U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Commander, as well as authorities from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Joint pact between Costa Rica and U.S. yields results


Cooperation between Costa Rica and the United States has led to a series of important drug seizures. In October 1999, the two countries agreed to conduct joint maritime patrols. This bilateral agreement has led to a number of important drug seizures by Costa Rican and U.S. Coast Guard personnel in coordinated actions.

In 2014, Costa Rican law enforcement authorities confiscated nearly 22 tons of cocaine and almost $7.3 million in cash; and between January 1 and April 9, Costa Rican security forces seized nearly 3 tons of cocaine. Most of the drugs were intercepted at sea or at Costa Rica’s post at Peñas Blancas, on the Northern Border, about 310 kilometers northwest of San José, the country’s capital.

As part of the ongoing cooperation, Mata is preparing to visit U.S. Border Patrol’s installations in Texas.

The U.S. “is also helping us put together the Border Police,” Mata said. The idea is “to go and learn how the border police works in Texas,” in order “to replicate the border model the United States has with Mexico, because besides the personnel the Border Patrol uses, it has high-technology equipment – such as drones, cameras – the United States government would also somehow be willing to help us with."




Costa Rica and Panama, enacting an agreement the two countries arrived at in February, are working together to fight organized crime and drug trafficking along their 330-kilometer shared border.

Security officials from both countries have set up a joint task force as part of a broad effort to improve security in the region. Since neither has an Army, police forces from both nations are boosting their capacity through cooperation, a strategy agreed to at the earlier meeting in the Panamanian city of Bocas del Toro. Their cooperation involves both information sharing and the development of a joint border force, Costa Rican Security Minister Gustavo Mata and Public Force Director Juan José Andrade told Diálogo
.

Sharing information


Sharing information is a key component of the joint effort. Under the agreement, security forces from Costa Rica and Panama share intelligence, data, and police radio communications in real time.

“It’s no secret that both Costa Rica and Panama are passing zones, whether by land or by sea” for drug traffickers said Mata, who is a former Deputy Director of the Judicial Investigation Unit (OIJ, for its Spanish acronym) – or Judicial Police. For years, drug traffickers and other criminals who operate at the Costa Rica-Panama border have evaded capture by simply crossing from one country into the next. Information sharing will help officials identify fugitives and track their movements.

Follow-up meetings are scheduled


A bilateral meeting is tentatively scheduled for September, during which officials from Costa Rica and Panama will discuss how the bilateral efforts are going.

The September gathering will be one of a series of follow-up meetings officials from both countries have scheduled, Andrade said during a separate interview with Diálogo.
These meetings will be held every six months, alternating between both countries. The first was scheduled to occur in April in the southern Costa Rican border city of Ciudad Neily, to fine-tune the issues of border control, information exchange, intelligence sharing, and combined land action.

Honduran Security Minister General Julián Pacheco was among the officials who discussed these issues during the February bilateral meeting. Several security analysts from Colombia, including former Colombian National Police Chief General Rosso José Serrano, also participated in the gathering.

Pacheco – a former head of the Bureau of Strategic Information of the Armed Forces and the Bureau of State Intelligence and Investigation – organized a regional meeting that took place in March in Honduras. In addition to Central American, Chilean, Colombian, and Ecuadorean authorities, U.S. officials participated, including U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Commander, as well as authorities from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Joint pact between Costa Rica and U.S. yields results


Cooperation between Costa Rica and the United States has led to a series of important drug seizures. In October 1999, the two countries agreed to conduct joint maritime patrols. This bilateral agreement has led to a number of important drug seizures by Costa Rican and U.S. Coast Guard personnel in coordinated actions.

In 2014, Costa Rican law enforcement authorities confiscated nearly 22 tons of cocaine and almost $7.3 million in cash; and between January 1 and April 9, Costa Rican security forces seized nearly 3 tons of cocaine. Most of the drugs were intercepted at sea or at Costa Rica’s post at Peñas Blancas, on the Northern Border, about 310 kilometers northwest of San José, the country’s capital.

As part of the ongoing cooperation, Mata is preparing to visit U.S. Border Patrol’s installations in Texas.

The U.S. “is also helping us put together the Border Police,” Mata said. The idea is “to go and learn how the border police works in Texas,” in order “to replicate the border model the United States has with Mexico, because besides the personnel the Border Patrol uses, it has high-technology equipment – such as drones, cameras – the United States government would also somehow be willing to help us with."
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