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Volume 15, Number 16
September 28, 2009

news

Also in this section:
Long-time Martinelli accountant to be next Comptroller General
Ana Matilde Gómez and her woes
Colombian racketeer's extradition to USA may affect Panama
Martinelli and the Venes
Minnesota scam proceeds may be here
Indigenous protest at the Presidencia
The tenor of political discourse among Americans
Bosco's drug running city police chief back in prison
Vaya con Dios, Presidente Endara

An ex-cop who sold out to the Cali Cartel, Reeder won a round in court but lost on appeal, never went back to prison until now
Drug running city police chief back behind bars
by Eric Jackson, from other media

Edgardo Reeder's last gainful employment was as Panama City's municipal police chief. It's not as difficult as running a big city police department in most other countries, because Panama's highly centralized form of government makes chasing down the robbers, bar room brawlers, kidnappers, drug dealers, rapists, bad check artists, murderers and so on a job for the national government and its National Police. The city's police force guards the mayor and visiting dignitaries, and patrols city buildings and other properties to keep the vandals at bay.

But Mayor Bosco Vallarino had a friend who used to be a cop --- a member of the old Judicial Technical Police (PTJ) --- and in March of 1995 was watching over the things coming through Challenge Air Cargo at Tocumen Airport. He wasn't just a cop, however: Edgardo Reeder was also working for the old Cali Cartel, smuggling cocaine through Panama's principal airport toward points north. Specifically, there was at least one 23-kilo bundle that went through the freight company and it was alleged that Reeder helped that to happen.

Arrested along with 14 other persons on June 21, 1995, Reeder ran into a complication that almost all drug defendants in Panama do: here, there is no bail for drug offenses. He awaited trial in prison until August of 1988. He was provisionally acquitted but the prosecutor appealed.

Generally at this point, a person who is accused stays in detention pending the appeal. Reeder was let out of custody, and the order by which this was done has disappeared from the files.

In July of 2000, the appeals court ruled in favor of the prosecutor and sentenced Reeder to nine years and eight months in prison. However, he was never sent back to prison to finish serving the five and one-half years left on his sentence.

So what did the mayor know, and when did he know it? Bosco Vallarino and Edgardo Reeder were friends since at least 1990. Vallarino testified on Reeder's behalf at the 1988 trial.

KW Continente journalist Adelita Coriat exposed Reeder's situation, and city hall's initial response was denial. Bosco insisted that Reeder had been absolved. Coriat had the documentary proof, the courts looked into it, and Judge Rubén Royo ordered Reeder back to prison. The next day Reeder, now out of a political patronage job, turned himself in to the National Police. After a day or two of processing, he was sent to the harsh and overcrowded La Joya Penitentiary, where there is a special cellblock for crooked ex-cops who would be at risk if placed in the general prison population.

The PRD majority on the city council used the situation to pan Vallarino's appointments in general, especially after it turned out that another of the mayor's bodyguards is awaiting trial on illegal weapons charges. But the mayor says that from now on his municipal police appointees will be vetted by the nation's Security Council.

Also in this section:
Long-time Martinelli accountant to be next Comptroller General
Ana Matilde Gómez and her woes
Colombian racketeer's extradition to USA may affect Panama
Martinelli and the Venes
Minnesota scam proceeds may be here
Indigenous protest at the Presidencia
The tenor of political discourse among Americans
Bosco's drug running city police chief back in prison
Vaya con Dios, Presidente Endara



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© 2009 by Eric Jackson
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Eric Jackson
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