Panama and the U.S. Cooperate to Seize Cocaine and Capture Three Suspects

By Dialogo
March 26, 2015



Cooperation between Panamanian and U.S. security forces led to the seizure of a large amount of cocaine and the capture of three drug-trafficking suspects on March 19.

Well-coordinated teamwork led to the seizure and arrests. Crew members of the suspicious vessel, a go-fast boat, began dumping cocaine overboard as they tried to flee; but a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine (OAM) aircrew kept track of it as it traveled off the Panamanian coast. Meanwhile, an aircrew aboard a P-3 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft coordinated with interagency partners to stop the suspect vessel.

When Panamanian security forces stopped the vessel, they detained the three suspects and recovered the drugs that had been tossed overboard. In total, they seized packages containing 2,195 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $164 million.

“The vigilance of our agents to detect illegal activity on the high seas combined with the collaboration of partner nations and multi-national law enforcement agencies leads to interdictions,” said Doug Garner, Director of National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville Florida, where the P-3 AEW aircraft that participated in the operation is based. “We’ll continue to deter maritime drug smuggling.”

Counter-smugglng operations in the region are conducted as part of Operation MARTILLO, in which. U.S. Military and law enforcement agencies cooperate with the security forces of partner nations to patrol the air and sea environments in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific on a year-round basis. The operation combines the security forces of 10 countries in the Americas – Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Canada, and the United States – along with France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

In Fiscal Year 2014, CBP's P-3s operating out of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, flew more than 5,900 hours in support of counter-narcotic missions resulting in 135 interdiction events of suspected smuggling vessels and aircraft. These events led to the total seizure or disruption of 126,489 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $9.47 billion.

Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police destroy narcotrafficking airstrips


The Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police cooperated to destroy five clandestine airstrips used by narcotraffickers in the Province of Satipo on March 19. The Joint Command of the Armed Forces did not immediately disclose whether Soldiers and police made any arrests in connection with the airstrips, which were located in the the District of San Martín de Pangoa.

Drug traffickers use narcoplanes to transport about 90 percent of the cocaine produced there, in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM) region, where some farmers cultivate coca -– the main ingredient used to make cocaine -- on their behalf. Guerrilla groups often pay local residents to repair the airstrips after they’ve been disabled, which is why the Armed Forces and National Police have bolstered their surveillance in regions where there are high levels of drug trafficking activity.

The airstrips in Satipo were allegedly used by the Shining Path, a terrorist group that uses revenue from narcotrafficking to fund its terrorist activities, including violent attacks on security forces. In an effort to combat their activities, the Peruvian Armed Forces in February opened the Boca Anapati base, which has a heliport, in Satipo. It is one of 12 military bases the government plans to build in 2015 in the VRAEM region.

Since 2011, Peruvian Security Forces have destroyed at least 65 clandestine landing strips used by narcotraffickers, most of which were in the VRAEM region. The majority of narcoairstrips are comprised of runways which are 500 meters long and 10 meters wide.

International cooperation is a key component of Peru’s strategy to fight drug trafficking. Peruvian security forces are working with their Bolivian counterparts to fight narcotrafficking along their shared border. Each year, narcotraffickers transport about half of the 450 tons of cocaine produced in Peru to Bolivia. From there, transnational criminal organizations move the cocaine to Central America, Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Asia.


Cooperation between Panamanian and U.S. security forces led to the seizure of a large amount of cocaine and the capture of three drug-trafficking suspects on March 19.

Well-coordinated teamwork led to the seizure and arrests. Crew members of the suspicious vessel, a go-fast boat, began dumping cocaine overboard as they tried to flee; but a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine (OAM) aircrew kept track of it as it traveled off the Panamanian coast. Meanwhile, an aircrew aboard a P-3 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft coordinated with interagency partners to stop the suspect vessel.

When Panamanian security forces stopped the vessel, they detained the three suspects and recovered the drugs that had been tossed overboard. In total, they seized packages containing 2,195 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $164 million.

“The vigilance of our agents to detect illegal activity on the high seas combined with the collaboration of partner nations and multi-national law enforcement agencies leads to interdictions,” said Doug Garner, Director of National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville Florida, where the P-3 AEW aircraft that participated in the operation is based. “We’ll continue to deter maritime drug smuggling.”

Counter-smugglng operations in the region are conducted as part of Operation MARTILLO, in which. U.S. Military and law enforcement agencies cooperate with the security forces of partner nations to patrol the air and sea environments in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific on a year-round basis. The operation combines the security forces of 10 countries in the Americas – Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Canada, and the United States – along with France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

In Fiscal Year 2014, CBP's P-3s operating out of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, flew more than 5,900 hours in support of counter-narcotic missions resulting in 135 interdiction events of suspected smuggling vessels and aircraft. These events led to the total seizure or disruption of 126,489 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $9.47 billion.

Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police destroy narcotrafficking airstrips


The Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police cooperated to destroy five clandestine airstrips used by narcotraffickers in the Province of Satipo on March 19. The Joint Command of the Armed Forces did not immediately disclose whether Soldiers and police made any arrests in connection with the airstrips, which were located in the the District of San Martín de Pangoa.

Drug traffickers use narcoplanes to transport about 90 percent of the cocaine produced there, in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM) region, where some farmers cultivate coca -– the main ingredient used to make cocaine -- on their behalf. Guerrilla groups often pay local residents to repair the airstrips after they’ve been disabled, which is why the Armed Forces and National Police have bolstered their surveillance in regions where there are high levels of drug trafficking activity.

The airstrips in Satipo were allegedly used by the Shining Path, a terrorist group that uses revenue from narcotrafficking to fund its terrorist activities, including violent attacks on security forces. In an effort to combat their activities, the Peruvian Armed Forces in February opened the Boca Anapati base, which has a heliport, in Satipo. It is one of 12 military bases the government plans to build in 2015 in the VRAEM region.

Since 2011, Peruvian Security Forces have destroyed at least 65 clandestine landing strips used by narcotraffickers, most of which were in the VRAEM region. The majority of narcoairstrips are comprised of runways which are 500 meters long and 10 meters wide.

International cooperation is a key component of Peru’s strategy to fight drug trafficking. Peruvian security forces are working with their Bolivian counterparts to fight narcotrafficking along their shared border. Each year, narcotraffickers transport about half of the 450 tons of cocaine produced in Peru to Bolivia. From there, transnational criminal organizations move the cocaine to Central America, Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Asia.
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