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Cablegate: Nas Panama Monthly Report and Local Developments: June

VZCZCXYZ0010
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #1244 2042127
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 232127Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0860
INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 1861

UNCLAS PANAMA 001244

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KJUS MCAP PM
SUBJECT: NAS PANAMA MONTHLY REPORT AND LOCAL DEVELOPMENTS: JUNE
2007

1. (U) This cable provides a brief overview of NAS/Panama
activities and major law enforcement and counternarcotics
developments during June 2007. In early June our key focus was the
visit of Codel Meeks.

UPDATE ON TITLE III PROGRAM
---------------------------

2. (SBU) DEA and NAS arranged a meeting at the Ambassador's
residence that included three Supreme Court justices and the
Attorney General (AG) and her senior staff. The Ambassador noted
the importance we attach to the Title III (Matador) program, largely
financed by NAS, which will soon be up and running. The justices
expressed their receptivity to the program and reached a clear
understanding of procedures and responsibilities with the AG.

DEALING WITH NEW SMN LEADERSHIP
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) NAS met with Maritime Service (SMN) head Rodrigo
Cigarruista to discuss our support for existing programs.
Cigarruista impressed us with a penchant for advance planning and
efficient use of resources. We welcome his commitment to enhancing
internal controls. Meanwhile, the investigation into illegal
enrichment and corruption by former SMN head Ricardo Traad revealed
on the order of $6 million in "unexplained" wealth. We have been
impressed by the dedication of the AG in investigating Traad, who
remains incarcerated.

COAST GUARD PLAN ON HOLD
------------------------

4. (SBU) Senior GOP officials, including Minister of Government and
Justice Olga Golcher, have indicated to us that the GOP plan to
launch a coast guard (fusing the SMN and the Air Service, SAN) has
been placed on stand-by. The officials cite the number of items on
the upcoming Congressional session agenda as the reason for the
hold. However, our day-to-day contacts in the public forces
indicate a major reason for the hold was the resignation of numerous
pilots from the SAN "in protest" of the plan's perceived bais
against the interests of the SAN as an institution. Further
evincing this SAN dissention was last month's resignation of SAN
head Jaime Fabrega.

PTJ - HOPE FOR SURVIVAL?
------------------------

5. (SBU) We understand from senior GOP officials that the plan to
eliminate the Technical Judicial Police (PTJ) remains firm.
Nevertheless, the June appointment of the capable and dedicated Jose
Ayu Prado (formerly the lead drug prosecutor) to run the PTJ offered
a glimmer of hope that the institution might remain intact and under
the direction of the AG. Ayu said he is working diligently to weed
out additional corrupt PTJ officers and improve the entity's track
record on completed investigations. NAS is working closely with Ayu
to channel our assistance to the entity in the most effective
fashion. We agreed on the desirability of training for proven
performers within the PTJ. Even in the event of the transfer of
most PTJ responsibilities to the National Police (PNP), those proven
performers are likely to continue to serve law enforcement in some
capacity.

POLICE MODERNIZATION PROGRAM
----------------------------

6. (U) Our law enforcement advisor traveled to San Jose in late
June to conduct a first session of our Panama-based Police Executive
Leadership Seminar Series (PELSS) for members of the Costa Rican
Public Force (Fuerza Publica). Our police modernization program
continued to receive excellent press coverage as well as a strong
public show of support from Government and Justice Minister Olga
Golcher.

EATON

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