cannabisnews.com: Drug Trafficking Up in Panama





Drug Trafficking Up in Panama
Posted by FoM on June 11, 2000 at 09:52:58 PT
By Rob O'Dell, Palm Beach Post, Washington Bureau
Source: Palm Beach Post
Panama has become a haven for drug trafficking and money laundering since the pullout of the U.S. military late last year, a congressional panel was told Friday. A significant increase in the amount of illegal activity by Chinese and Russian organized crime in Panama was also noted by members of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources. 
Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla, the subcommittee chairman, said it will take a couple of years and millions of dollars to make up for the loss of the American anti-narcotics base in Panama, and he blamed the Clinton administration for not foreseeing the problems stemming from withdrawing from Panama. Mica added that he has received reports that drug seizures in Panama decreased by "an amazing" 80 percent in 1999 from 1998. He noted that the three new bases for U.S. counter-drug efforts will not be fully operational until 2002. The three bases that will replace Howard Air Force Base in Panama are in Aruba, Ecuador and El Salvador. Ana Marie Salazar, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense estimates the cost for the new bases will be $136 million. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif, said that although Panama has been cooperating with the United States , it is unable to cope with the flow of drugs through its country. "Panama has no army, navy or air force, and its government and national police force have reputations for corruption and inefficiency," Rohrabacher said. "Major ports at both ends of the Panama Canal are now under control of a Hong-Kong based company, Hutchison Whampoa, (CQ) which has close ties to the Chinese government," Rohrabacher said. Rohrabacher added that Hutchison Whampoa is partly owned by China Resources Enterprises, which he said is wholly owned by the Chinese communist government and is a well-known front for Chinese military intelligence. "It is not a coincidence that Taiwan has stopped shipping military supplies through the canal because of their concerns that all ships' cargo will be seen by Hutchinson Whampoa and reported to Beijing," Rohrabacher said. Mica expressed concern over the possibility of increased Colombian narco-terrorist invasions into Panama, along with expanded drug-trafficking and money laundering in the Canal Zone. "With the U.S. withdrawal from Panama, we have already seen reports of significant Colombian rebel activity in the Darien province of southern Panama," Mica said. "There can be no meaningful discussion of the drug situation in Panama without considering the current happenings in Colombia." Rob O'Dell's e-mail address is robo coxnews.com On the Web: Drug Enforcement Administration:  http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/Published: June 10, 2000Copyright  2000, The Palm Beach Post. Related Articles:With U.S. Gone, Panama is a Mecca for Drugshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread6000.shtmlColombia Rebels Kill 47 On Panama Borderhttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread3989.shtmlColombian Rebel Storm Marine Base On Panama Borderhttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread3988.shtml CannabisNews DEA Archives:http://cannabisnews.com/news/list/DEA.shtml
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