Units of the National Aeronaval Service (Senan) have been deployed in the streets of San Miguelito since the weekend to assist the National Police in their battle against warring criminal gangs.
Security Minister Juan Pino, raised the alarm pointing out that the crimes perpetrated in San Miguelito are due to the territorial dispute between rival gangs for control of drug sales.
Senafront and Senan personnel, who usually operate on the borders of Panama, entered houses, searched passers-by, and arrested others. Since the weekend, 300 members of the Police, the Senan, and the Senafront have been patrolling the most critical areas of the district. Agents will remain in the district until further notice.
"What is happening in San Miguelito is due to drug riots that have awakened old disputes and promote fights for control of the territory between criminal groups, which are responsible for 80% of registered homicides," said the minister.
According to figures from the Ministry of Security, at least 24 gangs operate in the district
The Calor Calor gang which usually operates in El Chorrillo in mid-January claimed responsibility for a gruesome homicide in La Providencia, Belisario Porras district, where a human head was found. Another crime with similar occurred at the end of January is also attributed to this group. In Los Andes No. 2, the body of a half-buried young man whose face had been disfigured with acid was found.
Another gang that works in, in Santa Librada, is called Los Chacales del Nuevo Detroit. The organization, according to the authorities, is responsible for the sale of drugs, hitmen, and extortion.
Some of its members are accused of the assassination of the leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, Wendy Rodríguez, on August 27, 2020. According to the country's intelligence agencies, Calor Calor and Los Chacales del Nuevo Detroit have territorial disputes. that translate into shootings and crimes.
In June 16, 2022, police detained six people linked to the Por Qué Miedo (PQM) and La Tropical gangs, linked to homicides in San Miguelito and Calidonia. Some of the detainees have a history of robbery and homicide. The authorities are also on the trail of members of the Death to the Traitor (MAT) group, which operates in Belisario Frías, and is blamed for robberies, assaults and homicides. Members of Los Batros Locos, Los Millonarios de Samaria, Los Gangster and Los Dinamita, are among others targeted.
John Dornheim, director of the National Police, said that during the first two months of 2023, drug seizures and arrests have doubled compared to the same period in 2022.
Former Security Minister Rodolfo Aguilera believes gangs have grown "exponentially" in recent years. He recounted that when he served as director of the Judicial Technical Police, (today the Judicial Investigation Directorate), five to six gangs operated throughout the country, which engaged in petty robberies and thefts. but these groups are now "very organized structures dedicated basically to the transfer of drugs from the Colombian cartels."