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Panama

  • By: John H. Barnhill
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Panama is a Central American nation bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia to the south and Costa Rica to the north. Panama is a major cocaine transshipment point and primary money-laundering center for narcotics revenue, especially in the Colòn Free Zone. Although monitoring of financial transactions is improving, official corruption remains a major problem and hinders anti-money-laundering efforts. Panama has a history of corrupt political figures involved in drug-trafficking activities. Most notably, former President Manuel Noriega was a high-level drug trafficker until his 1989 capture by the U.S. military.

Although Panama is not a major drug-producing nation, it has relatively high rates of cocaine and marijuana use. Based on United Nations (UN) estimates for people age 15 to 64, 1.2 percent ...

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