Rescuers snatch unlucky narcos
PANAMA. An unlucky group of drug dealers were caught by the Panama Air and Naval Service, who were conducting rescue operations near Ja...
PANAMA. An unlucky group of drug dealers were caught by the Panama Air and Naval Service, who were conducting rescue operations near Jaque, Darien province.
The coast guards were looking for 15 people, who went missing after their ship sank two weeks ago.
The authorities captured 17 people and seized 1.3 tons of drugs in the maritime zone near Colombia.
The Panama Air and Naval Service director, Juan Vergara said that during the course of three operations, officers seized separately 25 packages containing 250 kilos of cocaine each, which totaled approximately 1,300 kilos.
The service also seized three high powered boats, one of which was burned by the crew on high seas.
According to Vergara, the Air Naval Service found the suspicious vessels while patrolling the waters looking for victims. The coast guard spotted a suspicious craft, that tried to flee. the officers reacted immediately and gave chase.
Because the high powered boat was on what has been identified by the police as a drug trafficking route, with ideal places to hide among the mangrove the Air and Naval Service detained the vessel and decided to keep the area under surveillance.
That led to the drugs seizures and the subsequent arrests.
Taking into account the amount of drugs seized, Vergara did not dismiss the possibility of the existence of a cocaine laboratory in the area near the border with Colombia.
In the first 75 days of the year the Air and Naval Service has captured 3.4 tons of cocaine, without counting drugs seized in this operation.
For years Panama has been the favorite route of Colombian traffickers, who smuggle drugs into the United States.
The sheer size of the coastal line combined with the lack of equipment of the Panama Air and Naval Service means that the percentage of shipment caught is small in comparison with the ones that go through.
In 2000, William E. Ledwith, Chief, Office of International Operations Drug Enforcement Administration said before a US House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources that Panama is the most strategically located country in the Western Hemisphere for drug trafficking and other transnational crime.
Panama's location between South America and North America, with its long coastlines, its border with Colombia, and the Panama Canal make the country a key transit point for drug shipments originating in Colombia for ongoing shipment north.
The First Anti-Drug Prosecutor Jose Abel Almengor agreed with that statement, when he told a local newspaper that the drug trafficking situation is worse in the border, because there are no controls in the Colombian cities of Buenaventura and Santa Marta, where the drug is shipped to Panama.