PANAMA CITY – Panama’s top anti-drug prosecutor said on Monday that cartels from Mexico and Colombia are increasingly using his country as a staging area for northbound shipments of cocaine.
Rafael Guerrero told Efe that the number of Mexican and Colombian citizens involved in cases of drug trafficking registered in Panama is growing.
“Panama has become the main logistical point for meetings between those who commit this crime, mainly members of (Mexico’s) Sinaloa, Gulf and Tijuana cartels,” emphasized Guerrero, who also said that the bulk of the Colombian drug that enters the country does so via maritime routes.
Of the 53.1 tons of drug seized during last year, 60 percent was confiscated in operations staged along the coasts, he added.
He also emphasized the effectiveness of the maritime control entities, although he acknowledged that there are many drug routes from Colombia to Mexico and the United States that pass through Panama and some of them are very difficult to trace.
The Naval Aviation Service of Panama reported on Monday the arrest last week of 17 people, including Colombians and Panamanians, from whom about 1.2 tons of cocaine and three speedboats were seized along the country’s eastern Pacific coast near the Colombian border.
Panamanian authorities do not rule out the possibility that the numerous shipments of drugs in the border zone with Colombia indicate that a cocaine processing laboratory has been established in the area. EFE