Panama Authorities Seized Nearly 8 Tonnes of Drugs in 4 Operations

Published: 13 December 2023

Drugs PanamaThe first batch of nearly 3,000 packages containing suspected illicit substances was seized south of Punta Burica. (Photo: Senan Panamá/X, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

Panamanian authorities seized nearly eight tonnes of narcotics from transnational drug cartels over the weekend in a series of raids across the country. These operations also led to multiple arrests, and thousands of illicit packages were taken into evidence, as reported by the Attorney General’s Office.

As part of Operation Omega, officers of Panama’s National Aeronaval Service seized 7.9 tonnes of cocaine and marijuana from the waters of Las Perlas Island and Punta Burica and Punta Mala, along the country’s coastline.

The operation is also comprised of members of the country’s national police and border services. Their mission, set to conclude on Jan. 2, 2024, is to inflict significant disruptions against transnational drug traffickers throughout the holiday season.

The first seizure was made south of Punta Burica on Saturday. Authorities discovered a total of 2,852 packages containing suspected illicit substances in a powerful three-engine speed boat. The watercraft sank in the course of police carrying out their duties.

According to a statement by Deputy Commissioner Dimas Saldaña, the speed boat’s crew attempted to flee and toss their cargo overboard after their discovery by police. The drug loads were later recovered and taken into evidence, however.

In the second seizure, 1,449 packages were seized in another go-fast boat southeast of Punta Mala. Hours later, the third interdiction took place east of Punta Mala, where investigators boarded another speed boat found to be carrying an additional 2,349 packages.

Roughly 1,270 packages of suspected narcotics were seized on Sunday as part of the final bust, registered south of Punta Coco, an archipelago of Las Perlas.

Altogether, police detained nine individuals in the course of Operation Omega, including two Ecuadorians, a Colombian and a Costa Rican. The Prosecutor's Office is set to formally request their provisional detention.