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Mayor of Historic City Among Those Netted for Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering

Mayor of Historic City Among Those Netted for Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering

The mayor of La Villa de Los Santos, the birthplace of Panama’s independence movement, was among 11 suspects arrested Sunday night for allegedly trafficking drugs and laundering money through cockfights, Panama’s attorney general announced on Monday.

An investigation that began on October 21, 2016, ended Sunday night with the arrest of 11 suspects, 26 simultaneous raids throughout the country, and the seizure of 2.1 metric tons of cocaine and marijuana, nearly one million dollars in cash, 30 cars, and six properties, Attorney General Kenia Porcell said at a press conference.

The head of the criminal organization was a male in his 40s, whose name was withheld pending indictment, with a history of armed robbery, drug distribution, and money laundering between 1994 and 2017, Ms. Procell said.

Eduocio Pérez, mayor of La Villa de Los Santos, his assistant, a police major, and a police officer were among those rounded up in the late-night raid.

After the arrest of Mayor Pérez, Deputy Mayor Maximiliano Amaya was expected to become acting mayor of La Villa on Tuesday.

La Villa de Los Santos is a small town on the Azuero Peninsula famous for the First Cry for Independence on November 10, 1821, when secessionists stormed the Spanish barracks and freed political prisoners.

The town then declared itself independent from the Spanish Crown, triggering a cascade of similar declarations in towns across Panama. The isthmus declared independence just two weeks later, on November 28, 1821.

Infographic for Operation El Gallero that broke up a drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring in Panama.

Operation El Gallero broke up a network that trafficked Colombian drugs and laundered money through cockfighting rings. (Infographic)