U.S. and Panama Create Commission Against Drug Trafficking
By Dialogo December 21, 2011
The United States and Panama have created a bilateral commission to combat drug trafficking and money laundering using the assets confiscated from a Panamanian firm, Panamanian Foreign Minister Roberto Henríquez announced.
Henríquez made the announcement after meeting with a delegation from the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), with whom he reached an agreement on the creation of the new commission.
“The Governments of Panama and the United States maintain a close relationship and are working in coordination to implement plans and programs aimed at fighting organized crime, terrorism, and narcotics trafficking,” Henríquez said, according to a statement issued by the Panamanian Foreign Ministry.
This commission will be financed with the 52 million dollars raised by auctioning the gold confiscated from a Panamanian firm accused of money laundering and indicted in the United States, in what is known as the “Speed Joyeros” case.
Of those 52 million dollars, “about 70 percent will be dedicated to projects to combat drug trafficking and money laundering in Panama,” according to the statement.
The “Speed Joyeros” case constituted of “a model of international bilateral cooperation” between the United States and Panama, which resulted in the confiscation of the money from the Panamanian firm and prosecution in a U.S. court, the press release added.
According to the U.S. authorities, 80 percent of the drugs entering the United States pass through the Central American countries on route from South America, before reaching Mexico.
Panama is the Central American port of entry for drugs that will be subsequently transported to the United States, where it is estimated that 450 tons of drugs enter the country annually.