$7.2 Million in Cash Found Stuffed in Suitcases at Panama Airport, 3 Arrested
Panama police have seized over $7 million in cash after a group of men tried to smuggle the money in eight suitcases at Panama City's international airport.
Investigators say they suspect that the $7.2 million had been concealed in hidden compartments in luggage on a flight from Honduras and was being moved for a powerful cartel. However, they haven't confirmed which one. The money was mostly in bundles of U.S. 100 dollar bills, said officials.
Panamanian police, who described the suitcase stash as their largest seizure in years, also arrested three Honduran nationals at Tocumen International Airport who were traveling from Honduras to Panama City in connection with the stash of cash, reports WTLV.
Now Honduran investigators are trying to figure out how the suitcases were able to sneak pass airport security, drug police and special investigators at the Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa.
Authorities have suspended 32 officers and airport security staff as they investigate, Honduran police told CNN affiliate Televicentro. It is suspected that some of those who were suspended may have accepted bribes.
Javier Caraballo, the chief drug prosecutor, discovered the smugglers using gathered intelligence that said the drug money would enter Panama through Tocumen Airport.
According to CNN, Panama is a known as a money laundering hub for drug cartels in Central and South America. The arrest of the three men, ages 41, 39 and 32, and the $7.2 million seizure is recognized as a major victory in the ongoing battle against powerful drug cartels.