Security & Strategic Review - January 2021

PANAMA/REGION: DEA administrator pays unprecedented visit

On 7 December the acting administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Timothy Shea, arrived in Panama on an official visit, marking the first time a DEA administrator had visited the country. Shea’s visit comes as Panama, as elsewhere in the sub-region, continues to report high drug hauls. This in turn reflects ongoing concerns about the continued flow of drugs through Panama. In its latest (March 2020) International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), the US State Department noted that Panama is not a major producer or consumer of illicit drugs, but that its location and geography make it a prime sea and land transit route for drugs, primarily cocaine, flowing from South America to North America and Europe.

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