Panama busts drug ring linked to Colombia's FARC, Mexican cartel

Panama busts drug ring linked to Colombia's FARC, Mexican cartel
Guatemalan drug trafficker Waldemar Lorenzana Cordon is taken under custody to board an aircraft to be extradited to the United States,in Guatemala City on November 12, 2014. Lorenzana Cordon is the son of Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, the 75-year-old patriarch of a Guatemalan family authorities have linked to Mexican drug baron Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman of the Sinaloa cartel and who was also extradited to the US on charges of drug trafficking just months ago.

PANAMA CITY - Panama said on Friday it had arrested 59 people as part of an investigation into a drug trafficking ring with links to Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels and Mexico's Sinaloa cartel.

The 18-month investigation into the organisation, which used Panama as the base for its smuggling operations, led to the seizure of drugs, cars, speed-boats and cash, and the discovery of various bank accounts used to launder drug money, Javier Caraballo, Panama's anti-drug investigator, said in a press conference.

The majority of those arrested were either Mexican or Colombian, and many had entered the country as tourists, some with fake names, Caraballo said.

He added that Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico collaborated in the investigation.

The FARC was founded in 1964 to fight for rural land reform but has been deeply involved in the narcotics trade. The rebels are currently in the midst of peace negotiations with the Colombian government to end a decades-long conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people.

As part of the negotiations, the FARC has already agreed to put an end to the illegal drugs trade.

Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, the world's most-wanted drug lord, led the powerful Sinaloa cartel until his capture earlier this year. He is now behind bars.

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