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Panama Seizes More than 1 Ton of Cocaine in Pacific Waters

Panama Seizes More than 1 Ton of Cocaine in Pacific Waters

By Roberto López Dubois/Diálogo
September 03, 2020

In two simultaneous operations, units of the Panamanian Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) seized 1,049 kilograms of cocaine, a semisubmersible, and a go-fast vessel, and arrested six Colombians in Panama’s coastal Pacific waters.

According to SENAN’s Intelligence, during both operations carried out in late June, personnel used SENAN’s air and naval means, and received the support of U.S. and Colombian security forces.

The first operation took place in the south of Coiba Island, Veraguas province, where SENAN units seized 610 kg of cocaine on board a semisubmersible, and captured its four Colombian crew members.

“Their objective is to evade the authorities, because they [the criminals] know that the Panamanian state’s current capabilities are not the same as before. They are potentially high, with maritime patrol aircraft, speedboats with diverse naval technology, and a team that is committed to this fight [against narcotrafficking],” Panamanian Interior Minister Juan Manuel Pino Forero, told Diálogo regarding narcotraffickers’ use of semisubmersibles.

The minister said that Panamanian authorities stop many of the alerts issued by other countries about illicit shipments crossing Panama.

“I can’t say that we achieve seizures on 100 percent of the alerts, but our effectiveness is over 95 percent every time we receive a narcotrafficking alert,” Pino said.

SENAN units carried out another operation in the south of San José Island, Las Perlas Archipelago, Panamá province, where they seized a go-fast vessel with 439 kg of cocaine on board. Authorities arrested the crew, two Colombian nationals.

From January 1 to July 1, 2020, SENAN conducted 38 operations and seized a total of 23,054 kg of illicit substances, the institution’s Public Affairs Office reported.

According to SENAN’s Intelligence, most large illicit shipments begin their journey in the Urabá Gulf, Colombia, and many of these illicit caches belong to the Colombian organized armed group Clan del Golfo.