SENAN Deals Tough Blow to Narcotrafficking in Mid-November

SENAN Deals Tough Blow to Narcotrafficking in Mid-November

By Roberto López Dubois/Diálogo
December 15, 2021

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The Panamanian National Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) continues to deal a tough blow to narcotrafficking. From November 13 to December 4, 2021, the naval institution seized more than 10 tons of cocaine in various operations.

“November was a month in which there was an increase in seizures,” Commissioner Luis De Gracia, head of SENAN’s 2nd Aeronaval Region, told Diálogo. “This year […] we have launched 181 successful operations compared to last year [2020], when there were 98.”

According to Commissioner De Gracia, the largest number of seizures resulted from operations in ports, where the drug was hidden in containers bound for overseas. “It’s a modality that crime is using, and it’s growing. Last year we had […] nearly 3 tons, and this year [up to December 4] we’ve had 24.7 tons [of drugs seized in containers],” the SENAN official said.

The most recent seizures in containers were made at a port terminal in the Pacific zone, on December 3 and 4, when SENAN units found more than 1,037 kilograms of cocaine. The containers, coming from Central America, were bound for Europe. As part of their investigations, authorities are seeking to determine if the contamination of the containers occurred in the country, the newspaper Panamá América reported.

On November 25, SENAN units seized nearly 5 tons of drugs and three speedboats, and captured eight people in three operations in the Panamanian Pacific, the institution reported in several statements. Authorities carried out two operations east of the city of Chitré, in Herrera province, and conducted another one south of Coiba Island.

Authorities dealt the largest blow of November on the 22, when SENAN units, in coordination with Panama’s Regional Center for Aeronaval Operations (CROAN, in Spanish), seized 3,267 kg of cocaine hidden in containers at a port terminal in Colón province. According to a SENAN statement, the containers came from Central America and were bound for Europe.

Another operation carried out on November 15 between SENAN and CROAN, with U.S. air support, resulted with the arrest of two citizens and the seizure of 637 kg of cocaine in the Pearl Islands, the naval institution said in a statement. That same day, SENAN units found 350 kg of cocaine hidden in a container at the Colón port terminal.

On November 14, following a chase east of Guararé, in Los Santos province, also with U.S. air support, authorities intercepted a speedboat with three crew members and seized 695 kg of cocaine, SENAN said. The previous day, during a maritime patrol in Colón Island, authorities seized 940 kg of cocaine and captured five men in a speedboat.

According to the Panamanian Ministry of Public Security, with these latest seizures, so far this year Panamanian forces have seized more than 118 tons of drugs (more than 91 tons of cocaine), or 47 tons more than in all of 2020.