PANAMA CITY – Agents with Panama’s National Naval Air Service, or SENAN, and Panamanian police seized 1,100 kilograms of cocaine after pursuing a speedboat off the country’s Pacific coast, authorities said Wednesday.
The vessel was detected Monday morning about 10 nautical miles from Coiba Island by SENAN agents, who pursued it until it ran aground at Punta Mariato in Veraguas province, an official spokesman told EFE.
The three crew members of the boat managed to flee, but authorities found 55 bundles containing a total of 1,100 kg of cocaine inside the vessel.
In addition, authorities found two shotguns, ammunition, two satellite telephones and a GPS system.
SENAN Naval Air Operations Director Nonato López said the boat was following a route in international waters but units from his department began pursuit when it entered Panamanian territory.
Another boat was found hidden in a marshy area near Punta Mariato, and López said it, too, was apparently used to transport drugs.
So far this year, SENAN has seized 12,118 kg of drugs, mostly cocaine.
The department has also arrested 19 people and confiscated nine speedboats that were being used for drug trafficking along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
The Panamanian government maintains four naval air stations to monitor the country’s two coastlines and strengthen its ability to fight drug trafficking. Another seven bases are under construction to augment that effort, and Panama is acquiring new coast guard vessels and helicopters to add to its monitoring and interdiction capabilities.