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USA Donates 63 Military Vehicles to Panama in a Bid to Tackle Migrant Smuggling and Drug Trafficking

In an effort to strengthen security on its borders with Costa Rica and Colombia, Panama has received a donation of 63 military vehicles from the United States Government. Valued at $8 million, the donation will be used exclusively by Panama’s National Border Service (Senafront) and Service National Aeronaval (Senan) for anti-narcotics, organized crime, maritime and border operations in remote areas of the country.

Mari Carmen Aponte, the United States ambassador to Panama, stated during the inauguration ceremony that “we want to support Panama’s efforts in the fight against organized crime, migrant smuggling and threats to the security of our countries and our people.” The vehicles will be used to counter human trafficking networks through the dangerous Darién Jungle, which is often used by irregular migrants headed to North America.

The Darién Jungle is also used for drug trafficking and has a guerrilla presence. In the first four months of this year alone, over 145,000 passersby have crossed the jungle, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous migratory passages globally. This figure is six times higher than the same period in 2020, which closed with over 248,000 people in transit.

Juan Manuel Pino, the Minister of Public Security of Panama, declared that spare parts would be received to guarantee the extension of the operation of the Jeeps. He further stated that the Jeeps would be used in the provinces of Darién, Chiriquí, Bocas del Toro, and the district of Chepo, where the units would be assigned to serve.

According to Aponte, this donation of Jeeps is the largest donation of vehicles that the United States Department of Defense has made to the Republic of Panama to date. In April, the United States, Colombia and Panama discussed a package of measures to address the regional migration crisis, which includes battling human trafficking through the Darién Jungle.

In conclusion, the United States Government’s donation of 63 jeeps worth $8 million to Panama towards fighting organized crime, migrant smuggling and drug trafficking is the largest vehicle donation made by the United States Department of Defense to Panama to date. The vehicles will be used by the National Border Service (Senafront) and will play a crucial role in battling human trafficking via the Darién Jungle.

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