Drug trafficking has grown in Latin America, and Washington cannot fight alone against this scourge that threatens regional security, U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, warned on December 10.
“I see an increase in drug trafficking from Colombia to Venezuela and from nations across the Caribbean to Central America, and it is a concern,” Adm. Faller said during a virtual press conference in Panama.
“I see an increase in drug trafficking from Colombia to Venezuela and from nations across the Caribbean to Central America, and it is a concern,” Adm. Faller.
According to the U.S. officer, narcotrafficking and international criminal groups are a multimillion-dollar “industry” that “threatens” the region with multiple illicit activities, such as drug or human trafficking.
Due to the use of new technologies, cyberspace, and cryptocurrencies, the fight against these groups has become more complex and difficult for each country to fight alone.
“Not even the U.S. is strong enough to fight this,” Adm. Faller warned.
The head of U.S. Southern Command, who is in charge of U.S. military operations in the Caribbean and Central and South America, made these statements during a visit to Panama.
In the Central American country, Adm. Faller met with President Laurentino Cortizo and his minister of Security, Juan Pino, to discuss cybersecurity, border security, and maritime security issues.
“We have to work together to see different ways” to “dismantle and defeat these criminal organizations,” Adm. Faller said.
On the eve of the visit, Timothy Shea, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acting administrator, said that Panama is a “critical transshipment point” for narcotrafficking to the United States.
Recently, the Panamanian anti-drug prosecutor, Javier Caraballo, warned that drug trafficking to the United States through Central America has managed to keep pace, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, Panama broke its record for seizures, with almost 91 tons, mostly of cocaine. That figure exceeds the previous 85-ton mark, in 2017.
Panama has become the port of entry to the Central American corridor that narcotraffickers use to move drugs from South America, mainly Colombia, to the United States, the world’s largest consumer.