Panama Strengthens Security in the Darién Zone

    The Darien “Gap” is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world.

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    The Panamanian authorities launched last Friday a campaign that strengthens security in the Darien jungle, the dangerous natural border with Colombia, to combat criminal groups that assault and rape migrants who cross that pass on their way to North America. “This operation (…) goes directly to hit these transnational criminal gangs that are made up of Colombians and Panamanians who are dedicated to beating and insulting migrants who transit through the Darién”, the Panamanian Minister of Public Security said.

    The “Operation Chocó”, within the “Shield Campaign”, promoted by the Security portfolio together with the National Migration Service and the National Border Service (Senafront – border police), will deploy 1,200 units through the Darién jungle to stop the presence of international criminal groups.

    One of the most dangerous migration routes in the world

    The Darien Gap is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world, and is also used daily by hundreds of irregular migrants who want to reach the United States or Canada, many of them mobilized by human trafficking networks.

    This area is extremely dangerous, not only due to the climatic conditions typical of the jungle, but also due to the presence of armed groups that assault and rape migrants, according to their complaints. This week, three suspected assailants were killed in a confrontation with Panamanian special forces agents in the Darien jungle.

    According to the Minister of Security, “the latest events have made it clear that these gangs have increased”, which is why “police forces from Senan (National Aerovanal Service) and Senafront have been deployed to control this scourge (…) because these gangs are organized by young people who have a leader who may be from the Clan del Golfo”, the largest criminal gang in neighboring Colombia.

    Unite against “organized criminalstransnationals”

    In the opinion of the director of the Senafront, Oriel Ortega, “criminals are cowards who take what little people carry in a jungle to profit and intimidate them”, and he encouraged “all countries” to unite against “organized criminals transnationals”.

    The Panamanian authorities have reiterated last Friday, during the launch of the campaign, that the Darien jungle “is not a migratory route” due to the high danger of the area. “Darién is not a route, it is a national park of Panama, a lung that we have”, Pinostated. “The Darien jungle is not a route for humanitarian reasons; We have spoken with hundreds of thousands of people who cross our jungle and tell us about the tragedies, the exploitation of which they are victims by organized crime”, Panama’s director of Migration, Samira Gozaine, told EFE.

    In the first 5 months of this year, 166,122 irregular migrants have crossed the Darién, a number almost 5 times higher compared to the same period in 2022, according to official figures from the Government of Panama. The majority continue to be Venezuelans, followed by Haitians. It is expected that this year 400,000 people will cross the Darién, which would almost double the data for 2022, which closed with a record number of more than 248,000 people in transit.

    America is experiencing an unprecedented migratory crisis with this massive flow of migrants to the north of the continent in search of better living conditions. There are some 20 million people displaced “right now” in the region, according to data cited by the NGO HIAS.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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