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By Roberto López Dubois/Diálogo October 03, 2017 Colombia and Panama will install two additional joint security posts at the border crossings in La Balsa and La Olla, as a result of an agreement reached between the security authorities of the two countries at the most recent Binational Border Commission (COMBIFRON, per its Spanish acronym), meeting from August 29th to September 1st in Medellin, Colombia. With a total of four posts in the border area, the parties are working to make these posts operational by January 2018. “These facilities will allow Colombian soldiers to patrol the area from their side, and the Panamanians from theirs,” stated Panamanian Minister of Public Security Alexis Bethancourt. “Furthermore, it enables joint monitoring of the jungle trails used by organized crime, allows for control of migratory flows, and puts a halt to narcotrafficking activity by both countries.” The armed forces of the two countries are working together to combat narcotrafficking, human trafficking, illegal migration, illegal mining, and other crimes near the countries’ shared border. The border posts at Alto Limón and La Unión are currently in operation. “The advanced security posts will play an important strategic role for control of the border region,” added Commissioner Guillermo Valdés, the operations chief of the National Border Patrol (SENAFRONT, per its Spanish acronym). “All transit corridors in which threats pass from one side to the other have been blocked to this end.” In addition to the new security installations, it was agreed during the meeting to change their frequency from every six to every four months, and it was agreed that the next meeting will take place in Colombia, at the end of November. How COMBIFRON operates COMBIFRON is a coordination mechanism created by the governments of Colombia and Panama to tackle security problems along their shared border. At each meeting, the delegations first outline the new threats affecting their territory as well as their strategies for combating them. Then joint actions to be taken are discussed. “We have set up lines of communication at these meetings regarding aspects from the strategic to the operational,” explained Commissioner Oriel Ortega Benítez, the deputy director of SENAFRONT. “We are consolidating three very important focal points: information exchange, training, and strategic forecasts. Beyond planning, we have carried out simultaneous operations in the two countries, for example, Operation Escudo, and Operation Patria.. What we do will now be done in an integrated way,” he added. The threats The main threat in the area is narcotrafficking, whose methods constantly change in reaction to efforts to combat it. “Their methods have changed. At first we discovered that they were moving in large vessels, the longboats. Then they began transporting drugs in smaller, double-hulled boats,” explained Commissioner Valdés. “But currently, now that the aquatic route has been blocked, they are distributing the drugs by land, using people on foot, who we call backpackers.” Additionally, Colombia brought up illegal mining, and how it employs equipment made by taking materials from nature for use in extracting gold from rivers. The amount of human trafficking was also mentioned, which could rise in the near future, due to the increase in visitors to the area. Advantages of COMBIFRON COMBIFRON makes the creation of a synchronized coordination mechanism between the two countries possible, allowing them to counteract the various threats along the shared Colombia-Panama border. In order to achieve permanent and continuous sharing of information between the institutions, the parties have leveraged the latest technology, enabling activities ranging from simple internet messages to videoconferencing. “The exchange of information allowed by COMBIFRON is a valuable resource when dealing with narcotrafficking and organized crime,” added Minister Bethancourt. “We need the parties to share information regarding who they are [the people committing the criminal acts], what they are doing, and where they are going, and with that information, we can assist in closing their route.” The first meeting goes back to June 2003. On that occasion, Colombia and Panama agreed to create a land, air, and naval border coordination manual, as well as a data bank containing the criminal history of the residents of the towns, provinces, and departments in the border area. The attendees decided to continue holding periodic meetings, which allowed the countries’ forces to reach new agreements more frequently, and to expand activities aimed at guaranteeing border security. Initially, Panama and Colombia decided to hold these types of meetings in response to the actions of narcoterrorist groups along their shared border. The illegal groups were committing criminal acts in Colombia and then crossing the border to hide in the dense and solitary Panamanian jungle. “These types of coordination meetings will continue in order to deal with matters of security, cooperation, and other issues affecting us both,” said Minister Bethancourt. “We have had very positive results with respect to various courses of action, such as planning of joint patrols, structuring of joint plans, integrated work projects, as well as other operations in each country,” he concluded.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Brittany Ozarowski (Suffolk DA Office)A 21-year-old woman has been indicted for falsely claiming she had cancer to allegedly use donations to support her drug habit, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.Brittany Ozarowski, formerly of Selden, was arrested on April 1 and will be arraigned Wednesday on the sealed indictment in Central Islip.Over the last 13 months, Ozarowski allegedly told prospective donors that she was suffering from different forms of cancer, including bone and brain cancer, stomach cancer, thyroid cancer and ovarian cancer, according to prosecutors. Ozarowski, who would plead for help outside supermarkets, “convinced store owners in this county and in Nassau to allow her to place donor jars in their place of business,” Spota said.Prosecutors also said that she established a PayPal account and a website that read, “Brittany Ozarowski – Help Save My Life.”“This was a despicable scam,” the district attorney said. “There was no cancer, no chemotherapy, no radiation, and no medical bills. There was just heroin.”“The truth is she is a 21 year old drug addict with four open narcotics cases, and we have strong evidence she forged doctors’ notes to avoid court appearances,” he added.A spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office confirmed that investigators are also looking into whether the alleged scheme took place in Nassau.Spota will hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon displaying Ozarowski’s donor jar, shirts purchased by a store owner who held a fundraiser to support her and gift certificates donated by local business owners.
The Spanish federation has cited concerns about competitive balance as to why the Barcelona-Girona match should not be played in Miami, rather than Girona, though the Spanish federation did approve the playing of the Copa Libertadores final second leg even though the match is a second leg that was originally slated to be played in Buenos Aires.A Copa Libertadores final in Miami would have helped give the La Liga-Miami proposal a precedent to point to as organizers continue to push for the match to take place in the United States.As things stand, it is looking like soccer fans in the United States have already missed out on one international final and are likely to also miss out on seeing an official La Liga match played on American soil. Another underlying subplot behind opposition to a potential Copa Libertadores final being played in the United States is the proposed La Liga match that soccer promoter Relevent Sports is working with La Liga officials to bring to Miami.Multiple sources told Goal that both U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer are opposed to any official La Liga match being held in the United States, though both American organizations are believed to be counting on FIFA and the Spanish Federation to kill off the proposal before U.S. Soccer or MLS have to.Under that proposal, Barcelona would play Girona in Miami in January, but objections from the Spanish federation, as well as the Spanish player’s association, have created hurdles that could force the proposal to be pushed back all the way to September, if it ever happens at all. According to CONMEBOL, Cordeiro “didn’t want” the game to be played in Miami, Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported.Sources with knowledge of U.S. Soccer’s handling of the situation paint a different picture to Goal of what went down with the proposed Libertadores match in Miami. According to those sources, U.S. Soccer never received a formal proposal and there was no clarification provided regarding whether Boca Juniors and River Plate were on board with playing a match in the United States.The organizers of the proposed Miami match were never informed why the proposal was rejected by U.S. Soccer, first learning of the rejection from the report in La Nacion. Sources say they believe the fact the match would have taken place on the same date as Saturday’s MLS Cup final in Atlanta played at least some part in U.S. Soccer’s reluctance to approve the move to Miami.Concerns about being able to host the match in Miami on short notice look unsubstantiated after CONMEBOL succeeded in moving the final to Madrid, where it will be played at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday. Getty/Goal https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/GOAL/50/20/copa-libertadores-bernabeu-gfx_1grx4du0pfa6t1pa2cfaufwtfr.jpg?t=1631449031&w=500&quality=80 A proposal to have the Copa Libertadores final second leg in Miami was reportedly shot down by U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, and the organizers behind the proposal are looking for answers as to why.Sources tell Goal that a proposal was put together to host the match in Florida shortly after fan violence led to the cancellation of the Boca Juniors-River Plate match at Estadio Monumental, but after initially being seen as one of the favorites to host the replay, Miami was taken out of the running after reportedly being turned down by U.S. Soccer.