Back on wanderings again, so forgive any shortcomings, repetitions, delays etc…
22nd September 2019
ANTI-NARCOTICS POLICE IN PANAMA BURN 26 TONS OF COCAINE AND MARIJUANA
On 22nd September, the Daily Mail reported that the haul – 24.3 tons of cocaine and 1.8 tons of marijuana – had been seized by the authorities in different operations between June and September and was probably destined for the US. It was the biggest single destruction of drugs in Panama’s recent history.
COSTA RICA SEIZES 2.5 TONS OF COCAINE IN OPERATIONS ON PANAMA BORDER
The Tico Times on 21st September reported that Costa Rican authorities seized 2.5 tons of cocaine in 2 separate operations carried out on the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines – 1½ tons of cocaine in a container that arrived at the Caribbean port of Moín from Panama; and a ton of cocaine was confiscated by the Border Police from a boat that ran aground in Punta Burica, in the South Pacific, near the border with Panama.
TON OF COCAINE SEIZED IN MANGROVE GROVE IN PANAMA
Newsroom Panama reported that Panama’s National Aeronaval Service seized a ton of cocaine in 1,998 packages on 1st September, just after the destruction of 26 tons of narcotics (above), in 3 stashes in underground caves in a mangrove area. It says that, so far in 2019, the security body has seized about 29 tons of drugs, mainly cocaine, in 50 operations on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts.
PANAMA: THE BLUE APPLE BRIBERY SCANDAL
On 19th September, Newsroom Panama reported that many of the 59 people charged in the Blue Apple bribery case were part of the inner circle of former President Ricardo Martinelli or had strong ties to his administration. These included his wife and 2 sons. It says that, in total, there are 50 people charged with money laundering, 10 for corruption, 1 for falsification of documents and 24 for illegal association to commit crimes; and many of the accused have already been investigated for other high-profile cases such as the Odebrecht scandal. Blue Apple Services Inc, was established in 2003 and opened accounts in Panamanian banks in which a group of constructors deposited money, was a company set up to receive bribes from companies bidding for government contracts 2009-14. The scandal appeared in 2017, following the Panama Papers and Odebrecht bribery revelations. On 16th September, it was reported that $35 million had been recovered, chiefly through agreements.
INDIA: AUTHORITIES SEIZE 3 CHIMPANZEES AS ASSETS IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE
One India on 22nd September reported that the Enforcement Directorate has “attached” 3 chimpanzees and 4 marmosets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act as part of a money laundering probe against a suspected wildlife smuggler. The animals were seized at the suspect’s house.
THE SAMER FOX NETWORK SUPPORTING THE ASSAD REGIME IN SYRIA
C4DS has produced a report on the network involving Samer Foz, 46, his siblings Amer and Husen Foz, and 10 of their businesses in Syria, Lebanon, and the UAE. The article says that C4ADS was able to identify 18 unsanctioned companies – in Turkey, Lebanon and UAE – that are likely linked to Samer Foz using OFAC and other publicly-available information. These could enable the Foz network to continue its support for the Assad regime and profit despite US sanctions, it says, and could also help the Foz siblings protect their assets from Assad’s regime and benefit from the Syrian reconstruction process. He has not always had a low profile, in August 2018, for example, the Wall Street Journal profiled him, saying that “Samer Foz has managed the rare feat amid the ravaged nation’s wartime economy of getting rich without getting sanctioned”. However, OFAC did then list him. In June 2019, The Times reported that Samer Foz was the director of a UK company that acts as his agent but also apparently runs a TV station and propaganda website through 2 other companies. He was said to profited from land taken from families who have fled the Syrian war.