Today, Panama launched two major operations to combat drug trafficking, which will have the support of Colombia, Costa Rica and the United States, which will be developed by land, sea and air and will focus on fifty vulnerable communities across the country
"In the last four years, coca crops in the brother country of Colombia have quadrupled, from 50,000 hectares to more than 200,000 hectares, which has represented important challenges for our public force," said Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, during the launch of the operations.
These are the so-called "Operación Relampago" and "Operación Escudo", which will have the support of Colombia, Costa Rica and the United States and will use new equipment such as barges, helicopters, air surveillance aircraft and interdiction boats, explained the president.
"It is estimated that more than 100 tons of drugs try to pass through our country (per year) and Panama confiscates more than 70 per year. It is one of the countries that confiscates the most," said Varela.
Panama seized last year at least 84.6 tons of drugs, mostly cocaine, a record figure according to official data.
The Public Ministry of Panama informed on September 23 that until that date almost 39 tons of drugs had been seized.
The operations launched this Monday will focus on the fight against drug trafficking and the economic and social development of 51 coastal communities throughout the country, "which we have identified as potential logistical support networks for drug trafficking routes," he said.
The operations, which will last about a year, will be carried out by the different State security bodies, as well as by other public institutions such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Panama Tourism Authority or the Aquatic Resources Authority, among others.
"Drug trafficking has only two roads: jail or death, and I assure you that as president I will do everything within our reach as a State to rescue our youths," the president added.