Panama Seizes 1.4 Tons of Cocaine

By Dialogo
April 24, 2013

Panamanian authorities seized 1,472 kilos of cocaine and arrested four Colombian nationals, despite the fact that drug trafficking towards the north of the continent “has decreased,” Belsio González, Director of the Panamanian National Air-Naval Service (SENAN), stated on April 22.

The seizure was carried out at the Colombian border on April 22, during Operation “Poder de Dios” (Power of God), with the help of three speedboats and four helicopters from SENAN, González added.

The official said that “the vessel was captured with four Colombian men on board and 59 bales of cocaine, totaling 1,472 kilos.”

The police pursued the go-fast vessel for several minutes, during which it was believed the waterline sunk due to the cargo’s weight.

“There has definitely been a decrease in this kind of illicit trafficking,” González said, as he attributed this phenomenon to police presence and to Operation Martillo, a multinational counter drug effort that was launched in January 2012 by the United States, Central America and others.

Although trafficking has decreased in Panama, the same sources indicated that drug traffickers would likely resort to Costa Rica for theirtrafficking logistics, mainly through the Atlantic Ocean.

“Due to the presence of our forces and other entities in the area, drug traffickers have decided to use another neighboring country to avoid our guard.”

He stated that the decrease might be even higher in the following months, when new radar equipment, surveillance aircraft, helicopters, and vessels are added.

During 2012, Panamanian authorities seized about 35 tons of drugs, while in 2011 39 tons were confiscated, according to official records.

In the past 13 years, the government seized a total of 319 tons of drugs; the highest quantity of which was seized in 2009 and 2010, with 54 tons each year, the highest annual figure so far.