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The Mayor of Los Santos, four bureaucrats, and two members of the Policia Nacional have been arrested as being part of a major drug ring dedicated to importing drugs for Colombian cartels.

During the operation 'El Gallero', twenty-six searches were carried out. Two tonnes of drugs and a number of expensive cars were seized.

 

 

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This is the Public Ministry's (Attorney General) press release issued this morning

freetranslation.

COMUNICADO

Operación Antidrogas “El Gallero”

The Public Prosecutor informs the country that an "Operation" called "The GALLERO" took place yesterday which dismantled a criminal structure that operated in the provinces of Los Santos and Chiriquí.

This operation began 11 months ago with the collaboration of different levels of security, under the parameters of the Adversarial Criminal System, which means, that for the purposes of monitoring and surveillance, the apprehension of persons and goods have been and will be, subject to control of the judges in the provinces of Panama and Los Santos.

Eleven months ago it was discovered that a group of people were organized, using the routes of Los Santos and Chiriquí and their coastal facilities to move drugs through the so-called Pacific Corridor of the Colombian drug cartels.

In this space of time, the different actions of the Drug Prosecutors along with different levels of security (Senan, Senafront and National Police) managed to seize 2.1 tons of drugs, 4 vehicles with double bottoms, 2 weapons of war and approximately 1 million dollars in cash.

During this time more than 20 people were investigated, establishing that 11 people were linked in a direct way, which is why the operation was called "GALLERO" because that was how they laundered the cash.

At this time, the Prosecutor General informed the country that "operation was a success," to the extent that the 11 people were located and arrested and, in particular, the leader of the criminal organization, as well as 2.1 tonnes of drugs, and 18 high-capacity vehicles.

I would like to thank you for the support of the security and all the staff of the offices of the drug, that is to say, to 18 prosecutors, led by the Superior Prosecutor Markel Mora.

Finally, as I have said on other occasions, the Public Prosecutor's Office carries out a historic struggle against crime, in particular: money laundering, corruption of public officials, drug trafficking, sexual offenses, trafficking in persons, organized crime, among others, ensuring the involvement of all people without distinction.

Panamá, 25 de septiembre de 2017

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Narco ring busted in mayor’s office raid

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DRUGS and Organized crime prosecutors seized over two tons of drugs, submachine guns and  18 luxury vehicles in a noon raid on the mayor’s office in La Villa de los Santos on Monday, Sep, 25.

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“The future is in our hands” said  mayor’selection poster

The raid followed the Sunday arrest of Mayor  Eurycio ‘Pany’ Perez, the first deputy secretary general of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD) for alleged links to drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption of officials.

Eleven others were arrested, including two policemen one of officer rank.

Attorney General Kenia Porcell told a press conference  that  since October 21, 2016, a criminal organization  had been  tracked  and on Monday  2.1 tons of drugs (marijuana and cocaine) were seized, along  with $839,830, 18 luxury vehicles valued at $120,000 to $500,000, four vehicles with doubles bottom and two sub-machine guns).

She said that the head of the criminal organization, is Panamanian, and  from 1994 to 2017, has been linked to drug operations, money laundering armed robbery and other illicit activities.

The anti-drug he operation ‘El Gallero’had 61  police monitoring, 32 locations a, in addition to 15 surveillance and follow procedures.

PRD reaction
PRD president, Pedro Miguel González, confirmed that the investigation maintained by the MP is linked to the leadership of his party but disassociated the PRD from the individual performances of any member of the collective.

Meanwhile,  Luis Antonio Pérez,  son of the mayor said that his father was innocent and up to 7,30 pm on Monday, the politician had not had contact with his lawyers.

He told El Siglo that ‘Pany’ Perez suffers from high blood pressure and he did not know if he had been given his medication.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/narco-ring-busted-mayors-office-raid

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Prosecutor asks drug mayor and coterie suspension

Posted on September 27, 2017 in Panama

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HIGH LEVEL  members of the PRD were in court on Wednesday, May 27 to hear  The First Drug prosecutor, Markel Mora, ask  the Judge of Guarantees  Josefa Monfante, for the provisional arrest and separation of the post of the Mayor of Los Santos,  Eudocio Pany Pérez, who is  a top PRD official,  his adviser Eduardo Vásquez Vásquez and two members of the National Police: Major Luis Omar Alvarez Martinez and agent Manuel Esteban Salazar.

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Seized cars

The four are linked to the drug network dismantled on the weekend at the conclusion of an  11-month investigation with a  Monday raid on the mayor’s office, the seizure of large amounts of cocaine and marijuana, submachine guns. and 30 high-end cars including a Lamborghini.

The  Prosecutor also requested provisional detention for six others arrested in the Monday raid: Manuel Antonio Dominguez Walker head of the network), Andrés Enrique Moreno Zamora, Alberto Luis Chavez, Roxana Lisbeth Norato Samaniego, José Antonio Villarreal Hernández and Manuel  Domínguez Salazar.

For  Ernesto Bowel Noel, an alleged front-man in the network, Mora requested home detention, as he is 70 years old.

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Perez stripped of his post

All those arrested were taken to the audience in handcuffs and were guarded by armed agents.

They are charged with alleged drug trafficking, money laundering and capitalization, illicit association to commit crime, corruption of officials and possession and trafficking of weapons.

The hearing  began on Tuesday, September 26,  following the arrest of the 11  in the investigation operation, which covered  provinces of Chiriquí, Coclé, Los Santos and Panama.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/prosecutor-asks-drug-mayor-coterie-suspension

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Drug bust mayor gets house arrest

Posted on September 28, 2017 in Panama

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Endocio Perez
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THE  MAYOR of Los Santos, who is also a high-ranking official of the PRD, has been separated from office and placed under house arrest by   Judge of Guarantees Josefa Monfante following his arrest and a raid on the municipal offices which uncovered quantities of drugs, submachine guns and luxury cars.

Eudocio Pérez, is the center of an anti-drug investigation dubbed El Gallero (fighting cock) alleging narco-trafficking, money laundering and corruption of public servants.

Perez was arrested on Monday along with 10 others after being accused of belonging to an alleged international drug trafficking network.

A similar measure was imposed on  the mayor’s  assistant Eduardo Vásquez,  Ernesto Bowen, Manuel Domínguez Salazar and Roxana Norato.

He also ordered the provisional arrest and suspension from office of  National Police major Luis Alvarez and police officer  Manuel Esteban Salazar,

The arrest and detention of Manuel Domínguez Walker, presumed leader of the network; Alberto Chávez, coordinator and  Andrés Enrique Moreno and José Villarrea was also confirmed.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/drug-bust-mayor-gets-house-arrest

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NARCOS is a very popular series on Netflix about the drug trade.

it didn't take long for someone in Panama to jokingly suggest a 'Villa de Los Santos' season.

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The judicial charmed life of drug kingpin

Posted on September 28, 2017 in Panama

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Zulay Rodriguez gave bail tp trafficking suspects
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MANUEL DOMINGUEZ Walker, whom the Public Prosecutor’s Office identifies as the alleged kingpin of a gang  of narco traffickers a  operating inside the office of the mayor of Los Santos,t has benefited from bail-outs, pardons presidential elections and rulings in his favor by the Supreme Court since 2009 reports La Prensa.

In 2010 The then substitute judge Zulay Rodriguez, now PRD deputy, gave bail to Agustín Romeo Escobar and Manuel De La Cruz ($150 thousand each), both linked to a network linked to Walker Domínguez, who also got bail.

The then drug prosecutor William Parodi opened an investigation into Judge Rodriguez because the law states that in crimes of aggravated possession of drugs bail is not applicable.

The then president of the Supreme Court Aníbal Salas, announced, in the midst of the investigation, that the Judge Rodriguez would no longer be called to preside.

Subsequently, the Second Court of Justice revoked the guarantees given to Walker and the others involved.

On Wednesday, September 27 in an interview with Nextv, Deputy Rodriguez confirmed that she granted the bail bonds and in the first instance requested an acquittal for processed in that case of drug trafficking.

The name of Manuel Domínguez Walker also came to the fore when then President, Ricardo Martinelli, on the day before he left office through Executive Decree granted him, along with other people, a presidential pardon. It was also signed bt then Minister of Government, Jorge Ricardo Fábrega.

Domínguez Walker was also favored with a ruling of September 30, 2015 by the Criminal Court of the CSJ which acquitted him in a money laundering case linking him to Katherine Cuesta Melara de Domínguez and Salvador Jiménez.

The Criminal Chamber consisted of judges Jerónimo Mejía, Harry Díaz and José Ayú Prado, the latter named by Martinelli in 2013, reports La Prensa.

“The chamber estimates several proven reasons for the lack of typicity of the offense of money laundering and in the absence of elements that allow the establishment of money seized from the accused came from drug trafficking … “, said the ruling.

In a hearing on August 20, 2010, the Drug Prosecution Office had requested the appeal of the accused.

The file had a financial report dated July 14, 2010, prepared by the Directorate for Judicial Investigation, which pointed out that Manuel Domínguez Walker and Katherine de Domínguez maintain a patrimony that could not be justified justify in the amount of $537, 962.71.

In addition, another report signed by the head of the Research Unit Of the National Police of 16 June 2009, which read: “a credible investigation manifests that Dominguez Walker alias ‘Toño’ will do the coordinations f a local, located in the sector of El Dorado specifically in Plaza Aventura, to make effective the sending of a certain amount of drugs towards the country of France “.

In the case of the “El Gallero” operation, which was dismantled last Monday, the Drug Prosecutor has successfully got the great evader behind bars as the investigation continues

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/judicial-charmed-life-drug-kingpin

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Lamborghini owner on $600 a month

Posted on October 3, 2017 in Panama

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Some of the seized cars.
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How a 70-year-old with a monthly income of $600 can own a  Llamborghini valued at $300,000  is a mystery that may be solved this week at a hearing on seizure of assets of those under investigation in the Los Galleros (Fighting cocks) drug investigation in La Villa de Los Santos.

Defendants will have to support with evidence and invoices each of the vehicles, the houses and a garden seized by the Public Prosecutor during  a raidon the mayor’s office.

Of the 11 defendants, six are in preventive detention; and the prosecution has appealed for the detention of three more.

The hearing is scheduled for Friday, Oct.6  in Plaza Ágora.

Among those accused are Manuel Esteban Salazas Sánchez, an agent of the National Police and Major Luis Omar Álvarez Martínez,; Mayor Santeño Eudocio “Pany” Pérez;    lawyer Eduardo Vásquez, the mayor’s  assistant and president of the Carnaval Board  who is under  house arrest; and  the alleged head  of the drug trafficking, gang, Manuel Antonio Domínguez Walker, who had a monthly income of $7,000 selling and exporting fighting cocks

Others charged are Walker’sright-hand man Luis Alberto Chávez Chen, 35, who is independent with a monthly salary of $5,000 and Roxana Norato, 32, a law student whose monthly income is $4,000 reports Mi Diario.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/lamborghini-owner-600-month

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Two appeals as drug bust subject off the hook

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TWO APPEALS have been file against a Judge’s decision to annul the filing of charges for alleged money laundering and corruption of an official against the suspended mayor of Los Santos. Eudocio Pany Pérez.

The mayor was arrested during a major police operation targeting a drug smuggling group said to be centered on the Los Santos City Hall.

On March 15 the magistrate of the First Court of Justice received a  protection guarantee protection presented by the Perez’s defense, which declared the imputation of charges to the mayor, considering that when the investigation began enjoyed criminal electoral jurisdiction as he was running for office in PRD elections.

Judicial sources confirmed to La Prensa that Judge of guarantees Josefa Monfante announced the filing of the appeal last Wednesday, and on Friday formalized the legal action before the Supreme Court,  that now must assign it to one of the nine members of the  Court’s plenary session.

Drugs prosecutor  Markel Mora, in charge of the summary, also announced an appeal.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/two-appeals-as-money-laundering-subject-off-the-hook

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Decision to let corruption suspect return to post  appealed

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The Public Ministry is appealing the decision of a judge of guarantees who on Friday, April 6 lifted a suspension from office order from a mayor under investigation for money laundering and corruption after a police raid on his offices.

Judge Justo Vargas,canceled the order of suspension of Eudocio Pany Pérez.the mayor of La Villa de Los Santos.

Judge Vargas also modified the precautionary measures of  Pérez who  will no longer have to stay within the district of Los Santos or report to the court every Monday. Now he will have an impediment to leaving the country without judicial authorization and must report on the 15th and 30th of each month.

The judge will allow Pérez to return to his  position after The First Superior Court of Justice, in a March 15 ruling, granted an amparo of constitutional guarantees

that revoked the indictment formulation made against him by the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Drug-Related Offenses, within the process linked to the operation “El gallero” which targeted an alleged drug smuggling network in the province.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/decision-to-let-corruption-suspect-return-to-post-appealed

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Second judge recused from high profile narco trafficking case

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Juan Castillo became the second judge to be recused from the high profile  “El Gallero” [cock fighting enthusiast] drug case on Monday, September 24   after an appeal by 14 defense lawyers because he had previously participated in hearings representing the Drug Prosecutor’s Office.

The case involves a drug ring allegedly centered on the mayor’s office in Los Santos. At the time of the  El Gallero police operation raid, a fleet of  20 cars was seized including a $300,000 Lamborghini driven by a man earning $600 a month.

Judge Justo Vargas, had been recused earlier because he had knowledge of the case in the investigation phase.

Two former National Police officers who were dismissed are among six people in preventive detention and nine others have precautionary measures from house to country arrest. The intermediate hearing with a new judge will now be held on Monday, October 1.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/second-judge-recused-from-high-profile-drug-bust-case

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Drug trafficking trial for Los Santos mayor

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Perez and lawyer

Posted 15/03/2019
 
A  move  to dodge the justice bullet by  a key figure in a high profile drug trafficking case was rejected  by a judge of guarantees on Friday, March 15

Eudocio Pany Perez,  current mayor of La Villa de Los Santos, was denied electoral protection and his  trial for alleged involvement in a drug trafficking network  for was confirmed for March 25

The investigation titled El Gallero began in October 2016, when anti-drug operations, monitoring, and surveillance, seized drugs, weapons, real estate, and a fleet of luxury vehicles located at the mayor’s office. Six of the accused in the case are in detention and the rest have less severe measures. Drugs were allegedly buried in local beaches before being distributed across the country.

Gladys Quintero, the lawyer  for Perez reiterated to media that her client has a new electoral criminal jurisdiction, due to his candidacy as a deputy to the Central American Parliament. According to Quintero, this is certified by the Electoral Tribunal. Pérez is acting as a substitute for Juan Pablo García Farinoni.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/drug-trafficking-trial-for-los-santos-mayor

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Drug  trial adjourned as defense hears 99 audios

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Manuel Dominguez Walker said to be the mastermind of drug smuggling network

Posted 30/05/2019

A trial of 18 people, including the mayor of Los Santos, allegedl;y involved in a major drug smuggling operation broken up in a police operation code- named  El Gallero,  was adjourned for  five hours on Thursday, May 30  while defense lawyers  listened to 99 audios obtained during the operation.  

Once the trial is resumed, the court will make a ruling in which it will communicate whether the questioning of the Prosecutor's Office to the witness continues or the defense continues to listen to the audios collected by the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ).  Jhon Omar Dorgen, head of the Anti-Drug Division of the National Police. In the case said  more than 80 witnesses are cited. 

The 18 defendants group are  accused of  money laundering), public  conspiracy to commit a crime and corruption of a public servant 

The defendants in the case are: Eudocio Pany Pérez, (The mayor)  Manuel Dominguez Walker said to be the mastermind behind a drug smuggling and distribution organization with a fleet of luxury vehicles including a Lamborghini, at the Los Santos Mayor’s office.

Manuel Salazar, Gabriel de Jesus Ibarra, Alberto Chavez Chen, Andrés Moreno Zamora, Ernesto Browen, José Antonio Villarreal, Eduardo José Vásquez, Manuel Dominguez Salazar, Luis Omar Alvarez, Jahir Antonio Casanova, Eucaris Domínguez and Katherine Cuesta M. 

This investigation began in October 2016, when anti-drug and follow-up operations were carried out, and drugs, weapons, real estate, and vehicles seized.

Six of the accused are in preventive detention and the rest have less severe measures.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/drug-trial-adjourned-as-defense-hears-99-audios

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Phone taps in drug network case played behind closed doors

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Walker alleged kingpin

Posted 02/06/2019

The playing of 99 audios of  telephone interceptions in El Gallero” drug smuggling and money laundering  case will be behind closed doors,  

The ruling came on Friday,  May 31 after, requests t made by the defense of Manuel Antonio Domínguez Walker - alleged head of the criminal group - and the former mayor of La Villa de Los Santos Eudocio Pani Pérez.

The prosecutor  Markel Mora, opposed the request, as the processes that are under the norms of the accusatory criminal system can be publicized.

 The  public, including journalists, was evicted from the trial room.

The reproduction of the audios is d so that the analyst of the Judicial Investigation Directorate Tomás Serrano Castillo can respond to the interrogation of the prosecutor's office and cross-examination of the lawyers of the 15 people prosecuted, all suspected of integrating a drug trafficking network and laundering money that operated in Azuero - dismantled in the so-called El Gallero operation.

Friday was the second day that Serrano participated as a prosecution witness  On his first day, the DIJ  agent revealed that the audios are related to coordination calls and executions for drug trafficking. Also, about the movement of money and the criminal structure of network operations.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/phone-taps-in-drug-network-case-played-behind-closed-doors

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Wednesday verdict for 15 accused  in major  drug bust

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One of the key suspects arriving at the court

A major drug related trial  with 15 defendants including prominent public officials  ended after  10:00 pm on Monday September 30,

The , accused faced  charges  ranging  from drug trafficking, to  illicit association and corruption of officials  after  an anti-drug   investigation labeled El Gallero  exposed a criminal organization dedicated to drug trafficking in which each of the accused had an assigned task with the purpose of covering up illicit money and trafficking illicit substances, according to the Public Prosecutor's investigation from October 2016

They  will know their fate  on Wednesday October 2  at 5 pm.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/wednesday-verdict-for-15-accused-in-major-drug-bust

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!5 walk free after four-months drug, trial

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Eunicio Perez

Posted 03/10/2019

FIFTEEN defendants accused of international drug trafficking, money laundering, illicit association to commit crimes, possession of firearms and corruption of officials walked free on Wednesday, October 2 after a trial lasting four months. .

Judges  Katia Rodríguez, Aldo Johnson and Maribel Osorio, declared them not guilty in the case labeled El Gallero.

The court ordered the immediate release of the detainees, including Manuel Domínguez Walker, considered the alleged leader of the network. 

The magistrates did not value the 99 audios that the drug prosecutor's office, in charge of prosecutor Markel Mora, had presented as evidence. According to the ruling, the telephone interceptions were not authorized at the time by a guarantee judge.  The judges said that the illegality of the actions of the accused was not proven.

In the case of the former mayor of Los Santos and now a deputy of the Central American Parliament, (Parlacen)  Eudocio Pany Pérez, a high profile  PRD leader, the Court said that the prosecution failed to verify that he had received money product of the alleged illegal activities from Dominguez Walker,

It also ruled that many of the events in which the 15 investigated were imputed had been processed at in other jurisdictions, such as the case of the seizure of 886 kilos of packages with drugs in Los Santos, in 2016. 

Eudocio Pérez said that at no time was he afraid of the result of the process. “The trial court was very educational when making decisions,” he said

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/5-walk-free-after-four-months-drug-trial

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Impunity replaces justice as drug network walks free

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A Lamborghini was impounded when the case opened

Posted 04/10/2019

The October 2 ruling in the case of El Gallero (fighting cock) confirms a trend in high profile processes: which are increasingly inclined towards impunity writes Rodrigo Noriega in La Prensa

The trial court ruled out evidence that had already been validated in the previous stage of the process. In the photo, in a white shirt, the former mayor and now deputy of the Parlacen Eudocio 'Pany' Pérez, who was found not guilty along with the other 14 accused in the case

The trial court ruled out evidence that had already been validated in the previous stage of the process. In the photo, in a white shirt, the former mayor and now deputy of the Parlacen Eudocio 'Pany' Pérez, who was found not guilty along with the other 14 accused in the case. Agustín Herrera

On September 25, 2017, the Attorney General Kenia Porcell, announced to the country that a follow-up and intelligence operation called  El Gallero had resulted in the arrest of 11 people.

According to the official, this was a network that facilitated logistics for the Colombian narco-cartels of the Pacific, ensuring the transport of drugs through the provinces of Los Santos and Chiriquí.

Although Porcell did not identify one of the detainees by name, she did indicate that he was s mayor in the Azuero region.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Pedro Miguel González, identified him as the first undersecretary of that group,  Eudocio Pany Pérez.

The high relations that existed between the PRD and the government of the then-president Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019) became more toxic since he wanted to give a political aspect to this investigation.

Two years after the investigation began, an Oral Trial Court issued its ruling: “This Wednesday, October 2, 2019, based on the sound criticism of the elements presented and excessive flaws ...”, says the Judicial Branch's statement which records another debacle for the Public Ministry in a high profile case in the accusatory criminal system.

The 15 defendants (the original 11 plus another 4) were declared "not guilty."

The arguments put forward by the Court of Oral Trial are similar to those of the court that declared former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) "not guilty" in the case of wiretapping.

The judges, Kathia Rodríguez Alvarado (president), Aldo Jhonson Gobern (rapporteur) and Marysol Osorio Leyton, argued that “transferred” evidence could not be admitted - those that come from another judicial process already concluded; They discarded 99 telecommunications interceptions and disqualified the experts and technicians who exposed the financial components of the case.

How are they going to disqualify and despise what is presented by the prosecution?

Recall that this investigation began in October 2016 and it was not until September 2017 when the arrests were made.

In the follow-up and intelligence work, National Police and officials collaborated, and risked their lives to confiscate the drug that passes through Panama.

The traceability protocol for funds and assets resulting from money laundering is approved among all entities of the research and financial analysis system.

That is, the expert opinions presented are the norm, those that are always used and for which the country has been recognized internationally.

But it turns out that the Trial Court knows more about this than the FATF, Interpol and the FBI together.

“At the communication hearing on the meaning of the ruling, this Trial Court stated that, among the elements presented by the Public Prosecutor's Office and that diminished the probative value, there was a wrong formulation of accusation, the illegality of telephone wiretaps, violation in the chain of custody, violation of the right to defense, use of facts and testimonies in cases already tried. ”

These statements of the court contrast very much with what their functions are. This is what makes the decision more worrying because it confirms a trend.

According to the Criminal Procedure Code, the Trial Court will only evacuate the evidence and hear the allegations of the parties. The evidence had already been filtered and approved by the guarantee judge, Carmelo Zambrano.

It is not possible for three judges to rule out the previous phases of the process. For example, the 99 interceptions (audios) were discarded because, according to the court, they had not been authorized by a guarantee judge. Can we really believe that the judge of guarantees who knew this case for months, did not heal it?

It is clear that if there were telephone interceptions, the Public Ministry and the other participating agencies would obtain the maximum authorization for their inquiries. It would be good if the Supreme Court of Justice clarified whether it was the Criminal Chamber that gave that authorization.

Otherwise, we would have another wiretapping, case in which prosecutor Markel Mora and all the agents of the security forces that participated in this component of the El Gallero operation would have to respond to justice for illegal interceptions.

The bizarre logic of the ruling would indicate that the Court is not competent to authorize interceptions, but that a judge of guarantees, of a much lower hierarchy, can do so.

Gone are the 2.1 tons of seized drugs, double-bottomed vehicles, weapons of war and the million dollars in cash found by the authorities.

We Panamanians have the question: do we deserve this justice? - Rodriguez Noriega LA PRENSA,Oct.4

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/impunity-replaces-justice-as-drug-network-walks-free

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