Panama and Colombia seize more than 6 tonnes of cocaine

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The Panamanian National Air and Naval Service (SENAN) and the Colombian Navy seized 6.1 tons of cocaine hydrochloride in the Caribbean Sea during two operations, the Colombian Navy announced on May 2.

The first operation, which brought together the combined naval and surface capabilities of the Colombian Navy and the Panamanian SENAN, successfully intercepted a speedboat carrying illicit substances north of Isla Grande in the province of Colón, Panama, reported the Colombian Navy.

During the chase, the four Colombian crew members threw their cargo overboard. Panamanian authorities recovered 3,152 packages totaling 3.5 tons of cocaine.

During the second seizure, thanks to intelligence from the Colombian Navy, Panamanian authorities carried out maritime surveillance and control in the waters of the province of Colón, north of Playa Chiquita, the Colombian newspaper reported. the universal. During the operation, SENAN agents intercepted a boat carrying 2,593 kilograms of cocaine and 77.9 kg of cocaine base paste.

The Colombian Navy highlighted transnational collaboration to combat drug trafficking. “We reaffirm our commitment to the development of multinational operations to prevent the use of maritime space for illicit drug trafficking,” said Colombian Navy Captain Ibis Manuel Luna, Commander of the 73rd Anti-Drug Task Force Neptune, the institution reported.

In early May, SENAN said via Twitter that so far in 2022 it had carried out 47 successful anti-drug operations, seizing more than 39,800 packages of illicit substances.

Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano and Panamanian Minister of Public Security Juan Manuel Pino held a bilateral meeting at the end of April to reaffirm the two countries’ commitment and collaboration in the fight against transnational crime, the general command said. Colombian military forces on its website. The meeting was part of the annual Bi-National Security and Defense Operational Plan signed in July 2021. The plan serves as the primary tool for developing joint strategies and operations to combat organized crime at the shared border, including including drug trafficking.

“The COMBIFRON Binational Border Commission and ongoing meetings between our military and border police commanders make this shared region a safe zone for citizens,” said Minister Pino.

Panama is a focal point for global trade, and therefore also becomes a hotspot for illicit activities [such as] smuggling and narcotics trafficking,” said Guillermo Holzmann, a defense analyst and academic at the School of Economics and Administrative Sciences at the University of Valparaíso in Chile. Dialogo. “While the Panama Canal has capabilities to combat these activities, it cannot completely neutralize the methodologies and techniques of criminal gangs on its own to use it as a [narcotrafficking] itinerary.”

Panama’s location connecting Central and South America has made the country a key transit point for illicit activities, according to Insight Crime, an organization dedicated to the study of organized crime in Latin America. “The port of Colon […] has become a launch point for cocaine en route to Europe and African countries that also supply European cocaine markets,” the organization added.

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