Panama and Costa Rica, the only two countries on the Central American isthmus with no army, are strengthening security cooperation in the face of drug trafficking and other global threats.
The 330-kilometer border shared by Panama and Costa Rica is an area that’s highly vulnerable to organized crime, including drug and weapons trafficking, as well as smuggling. Both countries rely on their police forces for national security. Lax security measures along the border also allow criminals in one country to easily cross the border in an attempt to avoid arrest.
Panamanian and Costa Rican authorities met on Feb. 11 and 12 in the western Panamanian city of Bocas del Toro and agreed to step up coordination and create a joint task force “for more efficient crime fighting,” according to Panama’s Security Minister Rodolfo Aguilera. Aguilera presided over the talks with his recently-appointed Costa Rican counterpart, Gustavo Mata.
Aguilera also said the two countries agreed to training, joint border surveillance and to exchange information and security technology.
In an interview with The Tico Times, Mata said the countries also discussed creating a joint task force made up of police officers from both sides of the border.
The talks were attended by Rosso Serrano, who headed the Colombian National Police from 1994 to 2000. Serrano is credited with having masterminded the dismantling of the Cali and Medellín drug cartels.
Honduran Security Minister Julián Pacheco, who was sworn in this month by President Juan Orlando Hernández, also attended the meeting as an observer.
A meeting to discuss cooperation among Costa Rican, Panamanian and Honduran police forces is being scheduled for later this year, Costa Rican authorities said.