Varela expects Duque to take "strong measures" to attack drug production

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  • Wed, 10/24/2018 - 17:50
Varela y Duque
  • EFE - Archivo

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said today that he expects his colleague from Colombia, Iván Duque, to "take strong measures" to stop the increase in drug production in Colombia.

"I hope that President Duque will take strong measures to counteract this increase in production," Varela told reporters, defending the security policy of his government, which has a very strong focus on drug trafficking.

Varela said that the vast majority of criminal acts that are registered in Panama are linked to drug trafficking, which "with the illegal weapons that it brings creates rebel groups" that are behind the events.

The anti-drug operations in Panama are producing results, because "the seizures (of drugs) are strong, but the threat has quadrupled: production has increased from 50,000 to 200,000 hectares" in neighboring Colombia, he said.

Panama seized last year at least 84.6 tons of drugs, mostly cocaine, a record figure according to official data.

According to US data released in June, coca cultivation in Colombia increased 11 percent in 2017 to reach a record 209,000 hectares, while the potential production of pure cocaine also rose 19 percent to 921 metric tons.

This Tuesday, Varela asked again for "the support of the whole society" to punish "together, united" the crimes linked to illicit drug trafficking, and complained again that in the country "the issue of drug trafficking is being tolerated a lot."

The Panamanian security authorities reported on October 11 that so far in 2018 there have been 313 homicides in the country and that 60 percent of them are linked to organized crime.

Varela lamented the death on Monday of a sergeant of the National Police (PN) during an assault, in which two criminals were killed, and he was convinced that organized crime is probably behind this event.

"Investigations surely end up with something to do with organized crime, (related to the event on Monday)," said the Panamanian president.

Source- EFE

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