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SICA opened Central American Anti Drug Center in Panama and Guatemala.

Panama opened a Central American Center of Regional Security Information, for the exchange and coordination of security information between the countries of the region.

The Center is a network of computers, sharing information and technology on security issues, such as drugs trafficking, organized crime, human smuggling, gangs, etc.

The new facility operates from the Navy National Service located in Cocoli, near the Pacific Ocean and the interoceanic channel in Panama. The Regional Anti-Drug Center is located n the Cocolí sector of Arraiján.

Panama's National Police (PN) burning tons of drugs at the Cerro Patacon landfill near Panama City.(photo credit Mauricio Valenzuela)

The Regional Anti-Drug Center will receive logistical support from the Joint Inter Agency Task Force – South (JIATFS) Counter Drug Center in Key West, Florida. In fact, the US Southern Command operated the JIATF-S at the Howard Air Force Base from 1992 to 1999. The idea of opening a Counter Drug Center in Panama has been maturing since 2010 with the delegates from the Central American Integration System (SICA).

The issue was also addressed in November with the US Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano. Later Panama’s Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela made an official visit to the JIATFS in Key West, where 31 different US government agencies operate. That tour was also attended by the executive secretary of the National Security Council, Julio Molto, the general director of SENAFRONT, Frank Abrego, and the director of National Air Service, Belsi González. The center will be under the command in Panama of the presidential commissioner for regional security, Frank Abrego. In the operations there will be the participation from all of the security agencies of Panama, security officers from all of the SICA countries, and also includes logistical support from Colombia and Mexico as well as the collaboration from both the United States and Taiwan.

The institutional framewrok for the new center is the Central American Integration System (SICA) to fight crime . Now, each central american country will send experts to work in this institution.

“No country is able to fight alone against the scourge of narcotics and organized crime”, said the President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli during the opening ceremony.

Martinelli urge all regional governments “to coordinate efforts, to exchange information and to face together organized crime”.

The Minister of Public Safety of Panama, Jose Raul Mulino, said during the opening ceremony that  ”  Panama is the first central american border in the fight against drug trafficking”.

When fully installed, the cost of the Center will be around one million dollars, but this will be  an “extraordinary platform for exchanging information” said the new director of this organism Mr. Alfredo Callejas.

The Center will also have an office in Guatemala, which is the last central american border before Mexico.

Next April 28th, President Martinelli will meet the U.S. President Obama in Washington DC.

Previous to the opening, the vice president Juan Carlos Varela confirmed that the United States Embassy officially notified the panamian Congress that everything is ready to sign the Free Trade Treaty between Panama and the United States.