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18 October 2013 - Media release

Meeting between Presidents of Panama and INTERPOL underlines close police cooperation

PANAMA CITY, Panama – On her first official visit to Panama since her election in 2012, INTERPOL President Mireille Ballestrazzi has met with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, as well as other senior government and police officials, to discuss international law enforcement collaboration and transnational crime issues.

High on the agenda during INTERPOL President Ballestrazzi’s meeting with Panama’s President, as well as with Minister of Public Security José Raúl Mulino and Director General of the National Police Julio Molto, were the fight against transnational crime and Panama's active role against drug and weapons trafficking.

In this respect, President Ballestrazzi recognized Panama’s vital contribution to Operation Lionfish combating the maritime trafficking of drugs and firearms in Central America and the Caribbean. The INTERPOL-coordinated operation in May and June of this year resulted in the seizure of 15 vessels and nearly 30 tons of illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and also led to 142 arrests.

During her mission to Panama City, the INTERPOL President also visited the first Regional Security Operations Center combating organized crime in Central America. It opened in April 2011 under the auspices of the Central American Integration System in Panama.

The Center acts as a focal point against transnational organized crime groups in the region, which are not only responsible for most of the cocaine trafficked into the United States, but also for the high murder rate in the area.

“For more than 50 years, Panama has been a key ally to INTERPOL and the law enforcement community worldwide. An extensive modernization process has made Panama a dynamic actor in the fight against organized crime and criminal groups for the countries in the region and beyond, thus contributing every day to the fight against transnational crime at the international level,” said INTERPOL President Ballestrazzi.

Alexis Muñoz, Deputy Director of Panama’s Directorate of Judicial Investigation and President Ballestrazzi's Director of Cabinet, Serge Antony, also attended the high-level meeting.

The INTERPOL President’s visit to Panama comes ahead of INTERPOL’s 82nd General Assembly (21-24 October) in Cartagena, Colombia, where Minister Mulino will speak on global security issues.