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Panama launches operation in Darien jungle focusing on organized crime, migrant smugglers

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Panama has launched a safety operation alongside its shared border with Colombia to fight organized crime teams and migrant smugglers concerned in record-setting migration by way of the perilous Darien Hole this yr

ByJUAN ZAMORANO Related Press

Migrants line as much as take a ship to Lajas Blancas in Bajo Chiquito, Darien Province, Panama Sunday, Might 7, 2023. 1000’s of migrants who stroll throughout the Darien Hole from Colombia exit the jungle at Bajo Chiquito. (AP Photograph/Natacha Pisarenko)

The Related Press

NICANOR, Panama — Panama launched a safety operation alongside its shared border with Colombia on Friday to fight prison gangs and migrant smugglers concerned in record-setting migration by way of the perilous Darien Hole this yr.

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Safety officers stated Operation Defend is a part of the settlement reached with the governments of Colombia and the US in April to cease the stream of migrants by way of the border’s jungle-clad mountains.

Panama will use beforehand U.S.-donated helicopters to extend aerial patrols of the largely roadless area, however confused that it was a Panamanian operation. The federal government will even ship extra particular border police models into the world to attempt to root out the prison gangs.

Officers dismissed any suggestion of closing the border. It was the primary seen instance of the efforts promised by the three governments.

Final yr, practically 250,000 individuals crossed the Darien Hole, practically double the 133,000 who crossed in 2021, and a brand new document. That improve was pushed largely by Venezuelans, who accounted for some 60% of the migrants crossing there final yr.

In April, the United Nations warned that the unprecedented variety of crossings to begin the yr – six occasions as many throughout the identical interval final yr — urged that some 400,000 migrants might cross this yr.



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