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Panama (AFP) – Panama seized a record 128 tonnes of drugs in 2021, President Laurentino Cortizo said on Sunday.
This figure represents an increase of 43% compared to the previous record of 90 tonnes compared to 2019.
“In 2021, following 565 operations against organized crime and drug trafficking, 128.7 tons of drugs were seized,” Cortizo told the National Assembly parliament.
In 2020, despite the containment measures imposed to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, Panama recorded its third largest tow of 84 tonnes.
The news comes a month after Panama announced a record crop of drug money – more than $ 10 million in cash, which took investigators more than 12 hours to count after a house seized in Nueva. Providencia, in the province of Colon.
Cortizo, in his remarks to lawmakers, added that Panama’s murder rate in 2021 was 11.5 per 100,000 population, “mostly linked to organized crime.”
“In the fight against crime, I have not negotiated and I will not negotiate with criminals,” Cortizo insisted.
Panama is Central America’s entry point for drugs produced in South America – largely cocaine from Colombia – destined primarily for the United States.
Authorities say drug trafficking from Caribbean ports to Europe is also on the rise.
In recent weeks, Panamanian police have dismantled two criminal groups belonging to the Colombian Gulf Clan cartel, which controls about a third of the South American country’s cocaine production, or some 300 tonnes.
© 2022 AFP