Panama: Security Forces Intensify Fight Against Narcotrafficking
By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo October 16, 2020
Panamanian security forces have dealt successive blows to narcotrafficking.
In August alone, the Panamanian Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) carried out 10 counternarcotics operations, seizing 3,516 packages of cocaine and 248 of marijuana, SENAN said in a press release. Authorities captured some of the packages 10 miles off Isla Grande in the Caribbean Sea, where traffickers often take their shipments in speedboats.
“One of the scenarios that the Public Force deals with every day is denying that maritime space, so that drugs don’t reach Panamanian soil,” Panamanian Minister of Public Security Juan Pino said in a press release on August 30.
Due to its strategic location between the Atlantic and the Pacific, Panama is also a key transit point for international cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy trafficking.
On August 11, for instance, SENAN confiscated 300 drug packages hidden inside a coal container in Cristóbal Port, Colón province.
“The shipment came from Valparaíso, Chile, via Panama, and was bound for the Port of Antwerp, Belgium,” SENAN said in a press release. Authorities did not specify which substances were apprehended.
Less than 24 hours later, service members made another seizure. They intercepted 129 packages of drugs and detained a man in Puerto Caimito, Panamá Oeste province, SENAN said via Twitter.
Until the end of August 2020, the force has seized 26,204 packages of illicit substances in 52 operations. In August alone, authorities executed 529 search warrants, seizing 1,800 packages of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, crack, and crispy), the Ministry of Security reported. During the raids, authorities seized 140 firearms and 2,039 rounds of ammunition.
“We noted the discovery of an above-ground hideout in the Escribano [sector], Colón province, containing three bags with 75 packages of a substance that is still to be determined,” Commissioner Luis de Gracias, chief of the 4th Aeronaval Zone, said when presenting SENAN’s operational briefing.
For its part, the Panamanian Border Service (SENAFRONT, in Spanish) seized 928 doses of cocaine and 900 of marijuana during August.