On May 28, during a combined operation with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Colombian Navy, the Panamanian Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) intercepted a speedboat sailing northwest of Isla Grande, Colón province, with 1,055 kilograms of cocaine on board. The boat’s crew, three Colombians, was also captured.
The operation began when the Colombian Navy issued a maritime traffic alert after detecting a suspicious speedboat coming from the Gulf of Urabá in Colombia. The boat was located with the support of a U.S. Coast Guard vessel and maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). Upon seeing the authorities, the crew tried to flee and jettisoned 43 packages containing the drug into the sea.
Three boats, two aircraft, and some 20 SENAN units participated in the operation, the institution said, adding that it maintains in the region an average of 11 air and naval assets deployed and on alert. For this operation, the Colombian Navy, through its sources, picked up information on the movement of the boat and provided intelligence to Panama within the framework of maritime cooperation agreements of the Southern Triangle (consisting of Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama, with the support of the United States).
“An operation as such begins with an alert which can count on the support of an MPA, for which there are air and naval assets positioned at tactical points according to the alert,” said SENAN’s National Intelligence Directorate. “Currently, the region seeks to strengthen the capabilities of the Southern Triangle; therefore, the vast majority of operations within Panamanian jurisdiction are supported with intelligence or maritime and air support [from the countries of the Southern Triangle].”
According to SENAN, a large part of the illicit substance shipments seized within the Panamanian jurisdiction belong to the Colombian armed group Clan del Golfo.
Between January and May 2020, SENAN carried out 28 operations against narcotrafficking and seized more than 20,000 kg of drugs: 16,180 kg of cocaine and 4,807 kg of marijuana, the institution said. Between July 2019 and June 2020, the Panamanian security forces seized 70 tons of drugs, the Ministry of the Interior said.