• LatAm Presidents and the Law: Is Era of Impunity Nearing its End?

    From kidnapping and mass murder to money laundering and misuse of public funds, contemporary Latin American leaders have been investigated for a broad range of crimes, underscoring the structural challenges the region faces in the ongoing struggle to end the impunity enjoyed by its political elite.

  • 2016 Seizures Suggest CentAm Still Top Drug Corridor to US

    A drug haul by Guatemala's PNC on July 23

    Panama and Guatemala have seen a sizeable increase in drug seizures through the first half of 2016, an indication of Central America's persistent importance as a trafficking route to the United States despite past predictions of an impending shift towards the Caribbean.

  • Panama, Mexico Agree to Joint Crime Fighting Effort

    Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock in Panama.

    Panama and Mexico signed a series of agreements during a regional security summit in Panama City, highlighting the push in Latin America to foster cooperation between nations in the struggle to combat organized crime.

  • Panama Canal Expansion Could Boost Drug Trafficking: Interpol

    The Panama Canal expansion opened in June

    Interpol has warned that drug traffickers could capitalize on the expansion of the Panama Canal, in a reminder of the crucial but often underreported role of maritime shipping in the global drug trade.

  • CentAm Authorities Break Up Massive Migrant Smuggling Ring

    Alleged members of the smuggling ring arrested in Honduras

    Authorities across Central America have dismantled a migrant smuggling network that spanned from Brazil to Mexico, a remarkable sting operation that comes amid heightened US concerns of potential terrorists using these networks to illegally enter the United States.  

  • Bagdad

    The rival groups "Bagdad" and "Calor Calor" have become the two main gangs in Panama, and consist of an agglomeration of smaller youth gangs. While street gangs once mainly engaged in petty crime, today, drug transport and managing trafficking routes and logistics are the primary occupations of these organizations. Bagdad also engages in kidnapping and extortion.

  • Calor Calor

    Calor Calor is one of Panama's two most powerful gangs along with Bagdad, and the two battle fiercely for territorial control. Calor Calor consists of numerous youth gangs that rallied together against persecution by other groups.

    While Panamanian gangs once mostly engaged in petty crime, today Calor Calor focuses on providing drug transport and other services to transnational trafficking organizations.

  • Panama Cracks Down on Main Street Gang

    Panamanian security forces' anti-gang operation

    Police operations are cracking down on one of Panama's two main rival gangs at a time when the local groups are becoming increasingly involved in transnational organized crime.

  • Panama

    Panama's location connecting Central and South America has historically made it a key transit point in illegal trafficking routes, as well as a refuge and negotiating area for criminal organizations. Its favorable economy and the Colon Free Trade Zone (CFZ)'s booming contraband market have long attracted international money launderers.

    The country's weak judicial system and high levels of corruption have allowed for transnational networks to make inroads, including Colombian guerrilla groups and Mexican cartels.

    Panama's pandillas -- local street gangs -- often collaborate with larger drug trafficking organizations, and as the amount of drugs passing through the country has risen over recent years, so has violent crime.

    Despite being the fastest growing economy in Latin America, the poverty rate remains high.

  • Panama Supreme Court Seeks Extradition of Ex-President Martinelli

    Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli

    Panama's highest court has asked the foreign relations ministry to approve an extradition request for ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, marking a new step in a case that has seen the former leader accused of maintaining an illegal domestic spying operation.