The Panamanian Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) seized 3,894 kilograms of cocaine in two operations with U.S. air support, on December 12, 2020.
The first seizure took place south of Jicarón Island, in the Pacific Ocean. Authorities detained three men who were traveling in a light boat, with 52 packages containing 1,646 kg of cocaine, Deputy Commissioner Juan Guerra, SENAN spokesperson, told the press on December 13. “With the support of U.S. air assets, [we were] able to locate and intercept the speedboat,” he added.
Hours later, following another speedboat pursuit, authorities arrested four Colombians who were transporting 2,248 kg of cocaine, north of Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro province, in the Pacific Ocean.
“Air traffic restrictions to consumer countries [as a result of the pandemic] affected criminal groups, and what they did was to use sea routes where a lot of movement is observed,” Javier Caraballo, top drug prosecutor in Panama’s Office of the Attorney General, told the Panamanian news portal TVN Noticias.
Caraballo added that the level of effectiveness that Panama has achieved comes from its interagency work with counternarcotics entities in Colombia and Costa Rica, together with U.S. cooperation.
“To date [December 17] in 2020, SENAN has carried out 97 antinarcotics operations and has seized 55,449 packages of illicit substances,” Panama’s Ministry of Public Security reported. Of this total, “22,344 [packages] were seized on the Pacific coast, while 33,105 on the Caribbean coast. In these operations, authorities also seized 57 vessels that were used to transport these illicit substances.”