HomeNewsBriefPanama Mayor Linked to Transnational Drug Trafficking Organization
BRIEF

Panama Mayor Linked to Transnational Drug Trafficking Organization

PANAMA / 26 SEP 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Authorities in Panama have linked the mayor of a seemingly sleepy seaside town to a transnational drug trafficking organization, suggesting homegrown Panamanian groups may be deepening their role in the drug trade with help from local officials.

On September 24, Panamanian security forces arrested 11 people linked to a drug trafficking organization operating in the town of La Villa de Los Santos on Panama's Pacific coast as well as the Pacific province of Chiriquí near Panama's northern border with Costa Rica.

According to a press release from Panama's Attorney General's Office, the group transported cocaine from Colombia north along Panama's Pacific coast.

Authorities arrested the leader of the suspected trafficking ring along with several of his associates, including a number of public officials in La Villa de Los Santos.

The operation saw the arrest of Mayor Eudocio Pérez, who according to La Estrella is also a high-ranking official of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Democrático - PRD), as well as the mayor's assistant and two police officers, La Prensa reported.

According to the Attorney General's office, security forces seized 2.1 metric tons of drugs, two machine guns, nearly $1 million in cash and 18 vehicles, four of which had false bottoms presumably used to transport drugs.

(Video c/o Panama Attorney General's Office)

InSight Crime Analysis 

Panama's strategic location has historically made it a key transit point for drugs and contraband exiting South America and entering Central America. And in the past, local security forces and politicians have engaged in drug trafficking activities. However, the dismantled network's alleged ties to a small-town coastal mayor suggest homegrown Panamanian trafficking groups may be increasingly counting on the complicity of local officials to help them handle the growing flow of cocaine through Central America spurred by Colombia's cocaine boom.

SEE ALSO: Panama News and Profile

The increasing amount of drugs has likely come with an influx of cash for Panamanian trafficking organizations. And these crime groups may be using some of that dirty money to buy off local officials who have influence in strategic trafficking areas.

Panama's Pacific coast is particularly attractive to international drug smugglers due to increased pressure on Atlantic trafficking routes originating in Colombia. Traffickers have begun to shift to using Pacific maritime routes to send cocaine north, a trend that has been evidenced by huge seizures in Pacific Colombian port cities like Tumaco. The Panamerican Highway -- an important overland trafficking route -- also runs along Panama's Pacific coast, giving crime groups another reason to seek to co-opt officials in this area of the country.

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

ARGENTINA / 9 AUG 2017

From kidnapping and mass murder to money laundering and misuse of public funds, contemporary Latin American leaders have been investigated…

COLOMBIA / 7 OCT 2013

Four passengers have died after a US anti-drug plane crashed while monitoring one of Colombia's main drug trafficking…

GUATEMALA / 30 JUN 2016

Authorities across Central America have dismantled a migrant smuggling network that spanned from Brazil to Mexico, a remarkable sting operation…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…