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Panama Arrests Cuban National Connected to North Korea Arms Smuggling Incident

Panama’s equivalent of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last month announced the arrest of Omar Prieto Solís, a Cuban national wanted for money laundering. That is not really news.

The Cuban regime has an extensive network throughout Latin America and the Caribbean especially designed to evade U.S. sanctions as well as mask money laundering and other illegal activities, including supporting terrorist groups and state sponsor of terror Iran. What caught my attention was the following nugget. According to the Panamanian government, Solís has links with the “North Koreans who were involved in arms trafficking inside the Chong Chon Gang ship that was seized on July 10, 2013.” You can read more about the 2014 Chong Chon Gang incident here:

The Cuba and North Korea UN Whitewash

The Panamanian press release claims that Solís was extradited, however, it does not say where he was sent. Solís’s arrest seems to have been part of an international law enforcement operation that nabbed drug dealers and money launderers from Mexico, Ukraine, Colombia, and the United States. Cuba claims it is no longer allowing some of its senior military or communist party officials engage in the illegal drug trade. Even the soberest assessment will likely yield that is not the case. Who is this Solís fellow and who was he working with, if anyone?

A cursory check of Cuban government websites yielded nothing about Solís; however, that is not unusual. The only times they ever comment on law enforcement matters is when they are trying to cover something up or spin the United States bureaucracy that it is helping defeat the very criminal enterprises that they are a part of, including links to bad actors such as North Korea, state sponsor of terror Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas, the FARC, and many others.

The Trump administration’s re-orientation of U.S. policy toward Cuba and the Western Hemisphere was decades overdue. They have done more to advance the cause of liberty in the Americas than several former U.S. administrations. It will be interesting to see how these regional law enforcement efforts connect up with the new administration’s vision for the Americas, especially how it addresses meddling by China and Russia in Western Hemisphere matters.

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