Panama Burns Massive Drug Shipment

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Panama security forces announced the incineration of just under 4 tons of drugs which were confiscated in November.

The bulk of the burned drugs — 3.3 tons — was cocaine, with an estimated street value of $6.6 million, police told the Associated Press.

Panama has destroyed 28 tons of drugs so far this year. In 2010, the country seized 75 tons of cocaine, more than other any country in Central America.

The country made its bigger ever heroin seizure last August, and has also seen significant seizures this year involving liquid cocaine, as well as the dismantling of a large Colombian drug trafficking ring.

The country has long been a key transhipment point for drugs and a refuge for Colombian guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Some authorities, like the U.S. State Department, say that in recent years they have detected an increase in cocaine shipments from Panama to Central America. But it is unclear whether trafficking is actually on the rise, or whether Panamanian authorities have improved their ability to track and interdict drug shipments.

Panama has taken steps this year to clean up its police force and shore up drug detection technology like radar systems.

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