|Secretary Gustavo Perez being arrested.|
The surveillance program, which reportedly monitored over 150 Panamanians, concentrated upon former government officials, Opposition leaders, foreign businessmen whose assets Martinelli coveted, and prominent women whom Martinelli blackmailed for sexual favors. It is believed that Martinelli initially acquired the equipment to learn whether anyone had evidence or information linking him to the approximately $3bn never recovered from the master Colombian Ponzi schemer, David Eduardo Helmut Murcia Guzmán. Martinelli, who did business with Murcia, and reportedly laundered millions of dollars of Ponzi profits through his supermarket chain, and elsewhere, allegedly kept an estimated $1bn of Murcia's money, after the Ponzi king was extradited to Colombia. That cash has reportedly been employed in a number of illegal Martinelli operations, including funding purchases of securities in the Financial Pacific insider trading scandal.
Martinelli is known to have openly expressed his fear that Murcia will make good on his threats to retaliate against Martinelli's family, for the theft of his money, much of which was smuggled into Panama via speedboat, and turned over to Martinelli, for laundering and investing. The whereabouts of David Murcia, who was serving a long sentence in the United States for his crimes, in a Federal Prison, are not known, and a witnesses has reported seeing him; he may be cooperating with the authorities. Murcia has also been linked to narcotics trafficking activities.
It is hoped that the Directorate of Official Investigation (DIJ), the lead agency, will also be able to uncover evidence regarding a number of unsolved homicides in Panama, which are said to have been confirmed extra-judicial executions, conducted on Martinelli's orders, by an individual whose identity is known to the United States.
President Varela's anti-corruption and reform campaign appears to have gained momentum with these arrests. As this case unfolds, we shall be updating our readers on all developments as they occur.