Panama Breaks Up Colombian Drug Trafficking Ring

By Dialogo
April 14, 2011

Authorities in Panama broke up a ring that used a flight school as a cover to send drugs to Mexico and the United States, possibly for Colombian rebels, prosecutors said on 12 April.

The day before police launched a sting in which they arrested 19 Panamanians, five Colombians and a Mexican who are now accused of shipping drugs through Panama, prosecutors said.

“The preliminary investigation is looking into whether these people somehow were moving illegal substances for the 57th front of the FARC,” counternarcotics prosecutor Javier Caraballo told reporters referring to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Caraballo said the suspects are believed to have trafficked drugs on the FARC’s behalf though they are not FARC members.

After a year-long investigation, police made the arrests, seized 265 kilograms (585 pounds) of cocaine, 14 small planes, 17 vehicles and weapons from an organization led by Colombian brothers Isaac and Felipe Mosquera, the owners of a flight school.

The Marxist FARC is Latin America’s biggest and longest-fighting insurgency.