Panama's Struggle Against Drugs!

Panama's Struggle Against Drugs!
Posted by FoM on December 15, 1998 at 10:37:37 PT

Douglas Farah's Nov. 9, front-page article, "In Panama, Drug Money's Clout Outlives Noriega," reads like fiction. Mr. Farah's account attempts to link Panamanian government officials with drug traffickers and to accuse them of corruption consisting of bribery to release a drug trafficker arrested by Panamanian law enforcement authorities.
Despite the extensive use of innuendo and rumors, the attempt by anonymous sources to soil the excellent track record of Panama and its law enforcement officials in their continuing fight against drug trafficking and money laundering, not only fails but rather backfires.As is evident from the story itself, the facts are simple. Jose Castrillon Henao was arrested on April 16, 1996, in Panama, by Panamanian authorities, and charged with drug trafficking. For more than two years, 25 months to be exact, he remained incarcerated in a Panamanian detention facility under maximum-security conditions and at a considerable cost to the government of Panama.In May 1998, Mr. Castrillon Henao was delivered to authorities of the United States to face drug-trafficking charges in Florida, and he remains under arrest in the United States today.President Ernesto Perez Balladares did not know, had never met and had no relationship with Mr. Castrillon Henao.If anything, the episode is a success story for the government of Panama and its president, and it provides unequivocal evidence of the continuing commitment of our country to international cooperation in the struggle against the drug scourge. In light of these facts, the allegation contained in the article that the president of Panama somehow was opposed to Mr. Castrillon Henao's arrest, incarceration and eventual extradition to the United States is absurd and unfair to the manifest contribution by President Perez Balladares to the war against drugs.
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