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Cablegate: Panama: Narcotics Majors List Report Card

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #0460 1552059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 032059Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2132

UNCLAS PANAMA 000460

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM PM
SUBJECT: PANAMA: NARCOTICS MAJORS LIST REPORT CARD

REF: STATE 29120

1. (SBU) A major drug-transit country, Panama continues to be a
strong ally of the U.S. in the fight against trafficking and related
crimes. This cable provides key examples of our excellent bilateral
law enforcement cooperation, and one area of concern.

2. (SBU) In our FY 2007 Letter of Agreement (LOA), signed in
September, 2007, the USG asked the Government of Panama (GOP) to
increase narcotics seizures by 10 percent. Panama's cocaine
seizures and arrests for 2007 broke previous existing records, and
Panama registered the highest cocaine seizure level in the Western
Hemisphere. DEA provides the following to-date FY 08 figures
(through the end of the second quarter of the FY):

Cocaine: 12,548 KG;
Heroin: 30.4 KG;
Pseudo-ephedrine: 0;
Marijuana: 171 KG;
Arrests: 58 persons;
Prisoner transfers: 6 events/32 prisoners;
Currency: $2,802,735.

This compares to the following for FY 07:

Cocaine: 62,817.6 KG;
Heroin: 34.2 KG;
Pseudo-ephedrine: 10,000 Ephedrine;
Marijuana: 4,971.8 KG;
Arrests: 197 persons;
Prisoner transfers: 9 events/51 prisoners;
Currency: $5,790,429.

3. (SBU) The Supreme Court, National Security Council (Consejo),
and Drug Prosecutor's Office continued to provide unwavering support
to our judicialized intercept program (Matador). The program to
date has been an unqualified success and model for coordinated
counter-narcotics activity.

4. (SBU) Panama has cooperated fully and effectively on key vetted
unit issues. The former Technical Judicial Police (PTJ) Vetted Unit
is now a formalized Sensitive Investigations Unit (SIU). The size
of the unit has increased from roughly 20 members to a total of 38.
The Joint Intelligence Coordination Center (JICC, our CDI entity)
provides a consistently increasing level of information to U.S. and
Panamanian law enforcement agencies. The JICC is being merged with
the Financial Analysis Unit of the Presidency and has been placed
under the direction of the Consejo. This move has placed all vetted
entities under one coordinated structure. NAS and DHS/ICE have also
started a new PNP-staffed vetted unit that will work on major
non-narcotic international crimes.

5. (SBU) The disbandment of the PTJ and its placement within the
National Police (PNP) led the two institutions to merge their
narcotics units, making them more efficient. These units, along
with the hard-charging PNP fluvial unit (UMOF), continue to produce
consistent results and respond to virtually all of the actionable
leads provided by U.S. law enforcement.

6. (SBU) Panama continues to cooperate fully and enable the USG to
transport to the U.S. third country nationals apprehended in
international waters on suspicion of drug trafficking.

7. (SBU) We remain concerned with general ineffectiveness of the
National Maritime Service in terms of narcotics interdiction. The
SMN has benefited from significant support from NAS in recent years.
Post (up to the Ambassador) continues to press our senior-level GOP
interlocutors on the need for greater pro-activity on the part of
the SMN.

ARREAGA

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