Panamanian Police Destroy Coca Crops near Colombian Border

By Dialogo
June 20, 2013

Panama’s police destroyed a coca plantation and a cocaine lab in the Colombian border jungle area of Darién, on June 18, Panamá’s Minister of Security José Raúl Mulino said.

“Back from the Colombian border. Great bi-national day against drug trafficking. A hectare of coca crops and a lab destroyed by SENAFRONT (National Border Service),” Mulino posted on his Twitter account.

An anonymous SENAFRONT source told AFP, “4,495 coca plants were destroyed in almost two hectares located in the community of Chucurtí.”

The agents also destroyed a lab “with all the necessary equipment to process coca paste and transform it into cocaine in an operation where no one was arrested,” the source added.

According to the Organization of American States (OAS), 45% of cocaine users, 50% of heroine and opiate users and 25% of marihuana users in the world live in the United States.

The UN estimates the amount of cocaine sales worldwide at $85 billion, of which $35 billion correspond to the United States.

It is also estimated that 80% of the cocaine that enters the North American country comes through Central and South America.

In 2012, Panamá’s authorities seized about 35 tons of drugs, while in 2011 they seized 39 tons, according to official records.

In the past 13 years, the Panamanian government has confiscated a total of 319 tons of drugs. The highest quantities of drugs were confiscated in 2009 and 2010, with 54 tons each year.

Panamá believes that drug trafficking through their national waters has decreased due to heavier law enforcement presence and as an effect of ‘Operation Martillo,’ a multinational counter drug effort launched in January 2012 by the United States, Central America, and some European countries.

Tens of thousands of people die in Latin America yearly due to drug-related violence.