Panama Covid-19 update – a bad day reported today, with no less than 349 new cases reported (getting on for the equivalent of almost 3 days’ worth), with 90 more tests said to be “pending” – I suspect (or hope) the figures may be due to some hiccup in test reports being published. We now have had 10,926 cases and 7 more fatalities take us to a total of 306. 64 people are in the ICU and 266 others hospitalised. Meanwhile, there were no less than 743 arrests in the previous 24 hours for breaking the lockdown curfew rules.
On a lockdown Sunday, the most exciting moment for the family was a giant Crested Caracara (a sort of large eagle/hawk things) hanging around outside…
24 May 2020
FIRST IRANIAN FUEL TANKER REACHES VENEZUELA AMID US SANCTIONS THREATS
On 23 May, Global News and others reported that the first of 5 tankers loaded with gasoline sent from Iran reached Venezuela. Despite being an oil producer, Venezuelan oil is very heavy, hence the need for imported gasoline.
CRIMINAL COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST SWISS TRADER KOLMAR FOR ALLEGED LIBYAN OIL SMUGGLING
On 23 May, Swissinfo and others reported that civil society groups have accused the Zug-based oil trader Kolmar of complicity in war crimes related to the purchase of oil from war-torn Libya. TRIAL International alleges that Kolmar Group illegally smuggled oil from Libya between 2014 and 2015. Meanwhile, the Times of Malta links the report to Malta being reportedly at the centre of a well-coordinated multi-million fuel smuggling operation, with stolen Libyan fuel traded easily in Maltese territorial waters and through established storage facilities inside the Grand Harbour and Birżebbuġa. The latter newspaper says that the operation started following the 2011 collapse of Libya’s Gaddafi regime, evolved into a large criminal organisation coordinated by Maltese, Libyan and Sicilian businessmen. It is claimed that the Swiss trader purchased more than 50,000 tonnes of gas oil stored in tanks in the Grand Harbour between 2014 and 2015.
SWITZERLAND COOPERATES WITH VATICAN FRAUD INVESTIGATION
On 24 May, Swissinfo reported that the Swiss justice ministry has sent initial documents to the Vatican as part of an investigation into suspected bribery and money laundering related to a London property deal in which some Swiss banks are said to be involved. The case is said to date back to 2012 when the State Secretariat of the Vatican decided to invest an estimated $310 million in a property in London with plans to build luxury apartments.
UK: 1,000 LAUGHING GAS CANISTERS SEIZED FROM CAR
On 24 May, Kent Online reported that 2 men have been arrested on suspicion of drugs and money laundering offences after being found in possession of more than 1000 “laughing gas” canisters, which is consumed via a balloon and is also known by its chemical name nitrous oxide.
HOW MANY DRONES ARE SMUGGLING DRUGS ACROSS THE US SOUTHERN BORDER?
In its June 2020 edition, Air & Space Magazine in the US said that the answer was that nobody knows. It says that the the typical “narcodrone” is small and inexpensive, worth a few hundred dollars, but some unpiloted aerial smugglers are 6- and 8-motor aircraft, like those used in Hollywood film making, and can cost more than $5,000 and carry up to 35 lb. Nobody knows, it says, how many narcodrones cross the border each day, and nobody knows how to stop them from coming. Compared to other smuggling methods, it says, $5,000 for a drone is pocket change in the drug-running world, and a drone reveals nothing without sophisticated forensics. Some experts suggest that as many as a thousand drones could cross the border each week, but not everyone agrees. The article does report that US Customs & Border Protection headquarters recorded 170 reported incidents over the past 5 years, but the Border Patrol did not disclose how many drones had been recovered or seized, how many incidents resulted in arrests and convictions, the type and quantity of drugs recovered, where the incidents took place, and what type of drones were involved. A CBP spokesperson admits that there are currently no approved [drone] mitigation countermeasures, at least in civilian airspace – military conflict zones are a different matter. Radar and acoustic tracking are discussed, and the article reported that, in September 2019, CBP announced the purchase of 6 counter-drone systems, which detect and attack drones’ radio-frequency communications, for operational testing along the border in California, Arizona, and Texas.
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