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ICE HSI Panama hosts transnational organized crime workshop for Central American law enforcement

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Panama recently hosted an anti-financial crimes workshop with private sector representatives for Costa Rican and Panamanian law enforcement counterparts in San Jose, Costa Rica. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Panama also sponsored the attendance of HSI’s Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit and Panamanian prosecutors.

The workshop, which took place between Sept. 26-27, was designed to help attendees leverage established procedures by various private sector participants to facilitate the timely exchange of information with Spanish-speaking law enforcement agencies worldwide in anti-financial crimes.

Representatives from the financial and communication sectors presented information to an interagency audience of Costa Rican and Panamanian law enforcement, prosecutors, and Costa Rican immigration authorities to assist in developing cases involving the illicit use of their networks.

Officials with Panama’s National Police (PNP) shared that this transnational organized crime workshop expanded their knowledge about financial and communication networks. “We learned that these companies offer several services, which include peer-to-peer money transfers, money orders, and commercial services that are occasionally used for illegal acts,” said Lieut. Jorge Rudas Perez, Special Unit of Sensitive Data / Transnational Criminal Investigations Unit, PNP. “Thanks to this workshop, we now have the knowledge to expand the purview of our investigations in the fight against national and transnational crimes.”

“These events also enhance continued collaboration between Panama and Costa Rica in information sharing to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations,” said HSI Panama Attaché Jeffrey M. Schmidt.

Costa Rican Anti-Money Laundering Deputy Attorney Ligia Cerdas Solano emphasized the compound effect of workshops of this kind. “For the Anti-Money Laundering Deputy Attorney’s Office of the Public Ministry of Costa Rica, the workshop was incredibly useful not only for carrying out our work, but also for other special attorney’s offices that benefited from us sharing this information with them.”

Cerdas Solano also highlighted the need for swift and efficient collaboration among all institutions, whether national or foreign, public or private, in the fight against organized crime. “With the tools and information offered during the workshop, we are now able to further our efforts and improve our response times in situations that require our immediate attention, as well as expand the purview of the criminal investigations we are responsible for. This translates into quality service for the benefit of the public – and justice.”

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