HomeNewsBriefIs The FARC Growing Coca In Panama?
BRIEF

Is The FARC Growing Coca In Panama?

FARC / 25 JUN 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

The discovery of Central America's first ever coca plantation in the Panama-Colombia border region could indicate the expansion of FARC activities in an area already used by the guerrilla group for drug trafficking.

In a joint counterdrug operation, Colombian and Panamanian authorities discovered a coca plantation in the remote Panamanian jungle region of Chucurti, near the Caribbean coast and border between the two countries, reported Spanish newspaper El Pais. Officials destroyed 4,495 plants in an approximately two hectare area, an anonymous source from the Panamanian special border police (SENAFRONT) told news agency AFP.

During the operation, authorities also found a small coca processing and cocaine production laboratory, which officials estimated had the capacity to produce around 30 kilograms of cocaine per month.

Although the plantation was the first to be found on Central American territory, the find was "not altogether surprising, since there are plantations on the other side of the border," Director of the Costa Rican Drug Institute (ICD) Carlos Alvarado Valverde told El Pais.

InSight Crime Analysis

The area where the coca plantation was found is located in the dense jungle region known as the Darien Gap, which dominates the Colombia-Panama border and is used as an operational base by the 57th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The 57th Front is heavily involved in international cocaine trafficking, has links with the Urabeños criminal group (which has also expanded its presence in Panama), runs cocaine to Mexican cartels and has been known to use Panama City to finalize drug deals.

The well-documented presence of the FARC in the area makes it unlikely that it is not responsible for or at least complicit in the coca plantation found in Panamanian territory, indicating the group may have expanded local operations to include cultivation as well as trafficking. The expansive and inhospitable nature of the terrain makes it difficult for Colombian and Panamanian security forces to maintain a consistent presence.

Coca cultivation near the Colombian border in Ecuador has also been attributed to the FARC.

Central America is a key link in the cocaine trafficking chain, with an estimated 84 percent of US-bound cocaine passing through the region, according to a 2011 report. Panama itself was the operational center of an international drug trafficking ring broken up in April 2012, believed to have been supplied by the FARC's 30th Front. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 13 OCT 2021

The photos showed five dead bodies laid out in the dirt, each with a gun or grenade close to an…

FARC / 18 FEB 2021

A US court case seeks to compensate victims of the FARC with assets seized from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA,…

BAGDAD / 9 SEP 2021

As Panama struggles to contain an ever-growing flow of cocaine, a recent operation has revealed the extent to which officials…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…