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Panama illegal drug seizures set to hit record in 2017 - officials

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Panama illegal drug seizures set to hit record in 2017 - officials

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PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Panama is on track to hit a record level of illegal narcotics seizures this year after authorities over the weekend seized about 2 tonnes of cocaine near the Central American country’s border with Colombia, officials said on Monday. The total drug confiscations in full-year 2017 are expected to surpass the previous annual record of 72 tonnes confiscated last year, Security Minister Alexis Bethancourt told reporters, adding that the uptick is due to better coordination among local law enforcement agencies as well as help from “friendly countries.” The weekend drug bust was made in the border province of Darien on a boat from Colombia, the national border agency SENAFRONT said at a press conference. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has previously complained that a peace deal between the Colombian government and the Marxist FARC rebel group has led to a spike in drug trafficking and violence in Panama.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno, writing by David Alire Garcia; editing by G Crosse)
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