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Panama

Panama's location connecting Central and South America has made it a key transit point for illicit trade, as well as a refuge and negotiating area for criminal organizations. Its favorable economy and the booming contraband market of the Colón Free Zone (CFZ) have long attracted international money launderers.

Latest News

Sons of Former Panama President Plead Guilty in Odebrecht Investigation

NEWS / 16 DEC 2021

Two sons of former Panama President Ricardo Martinelli have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the United States related to the sweeping Odebrecht corruption scandal…

Pins and Needles – How Credit Card Fraud Works in Latin America

NEWS / 15 DEC 2021

A recent study of credit card cloning around the world revealed some startling disparities in the risks customers face across Latin America and the price of buying this stolen information.

Raids Reveal Urabeños' Grasp Reaches Panama

NEWS / 6 DEC 2021

A series of arrests have revealed that one of Colombia's dominant criminal groups has a strong foothold in Panama, including the support of corrupt officials and security forces.

Panama Profile

Criminal Actors

Armed Groups

As the gateway between Central and South America, Panama has been used by powerful criminal groups – from Colombian guerillas to Mexican cartels – as a refuge and staging area. The country is also home to two local gang networks: Calor Calor and Bagdad. Gang conflicts over street-level crimes are blamed for much of the violence in Panama City and across the canal in West Panama province. Trafficking groups are known to contract the gangs to carry out killings and drug robberies, and to secure cocaine shipments.

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News

COCAINE / 3 DEC 2021

Authorities in Panama are intercepting massive loads of cocaine at ports and in coastal waters, showing how the country is increasingly becoming a major transit hub for drugs as traffickers…

BAGDAD / 3 NOV 2021

Two attacks in recent days against gang members in Panama City have raised alarm bells that acts of shocking violence could become a regular occurrence in the country.

CHINA AND CRIME / 11 OCT 2021

Contraband Chinese cigarettes are pouring into Latin America, infiltrating old smuggling routes and threatening longstanding criminal empires.

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 are involved in facilitating the drug trade.

AUC / 30 AUG 2021

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was the pioneer in industrial-scale cocaine trafficking.

BAGDAD / 10 JUN 2021

Panama’s northern province of Colón, sitting at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, is seeing a truly staggering increase in drug seizures, raising questions about its role in the…

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