The Department of Patrimonial Assets of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) is to auction off two ships that have been anchored on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Panama for years.
The former “narcocarriers” Perseus V and Agamemnon will eventually be auctioned off to the highest bidder, but never to sail the seven seas again, just as scrap.
Both ships were captured with a total of 4.6 tons of cocaine in two operations in the waters of Panama and Puerto Rico.
The Perseus V, 83.50 meters long, was seized in international waters in January 2006 during a joint operation with the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA,).
According to the investigations of the time, this ship was flying the Panamanian flag and had a ton of cocaine concealed that never arrived in Panama.
Panama’s courts prosecuted 11 people, including the then director of the Maritime Service of Panama Ricardo Traad Porras and four other former officials of that entity.
This group, however, was acquitted by the Supreme Court in January 2010.
The Agamemnon, of 98.80 meters on length, also under the Panamanian flag, was captured with 3,681 kilos of cocaine after an inspection in Punta Yegua, Puerto Rico.
In that operation, conducted in 2008, nine Panamanian citizens were arrested. After the capture, the US Coast Guard handed over the ship and the drugs to Panama’s National Naval Service, taking into account the Salas-Becker agreement signed between Panama and the United States on February 5, 2002 for joint patrols in Panamanian waters and airspace to pursue suspected drug trafficking aircraft.
Two years later, and as a result of her deterioration, the Agamemnon began to sink, causing a massive bunker spill which partly affected the Panama Canal.
The public auction will be in compliance with Act 34 of 2010,covering assets seized from drug trafficking and organized crime, which was regulated by Executive Decree of May 24, 2011, according to sources of the MEF.
A similar fate to that of the Agamemnon V and Perseus awaits, in the short term, the ship Gatun Panama, captured in 2007 with a cache of 19.5 tons of cocaine, the largest ever recorded in Panama.
However, the Gatun Panama must be refloated before being auctioned as scrap, as she began to sink near Isla Melones on the Pacific, and, like the Agamemnon, began to leak bunker fuel into the sea.
The ship also became responsibility of the MEF under reforms to the drug laws in 2010 that removed seized property from the custody of the Drug Prosecutor’s Office, under the Attorney General’s Office, and transferred guarding, preserving and selling or auctioning goods to the MEF.
Currently there are at least six other “narcocarriers” in custody and others stranded and sinking in Panamanian waters.
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