|Mayer Mizrachi Matalon|
Most seasoned Panama observers were not surprised this week, when they learned that Mayer Mizrachi Matalon, the son of fugitive Panamanian organized crime figure Aaron Mizrachi, bribed his way out of Picota maximum security prison, where he was being held, pending extradition to his native Panama. Mizrachi is wanted in Panama in a major corruption scandal, but he probably will never see the inside of a Panamanian prison.
Mayer's father, Aaron "Roni" Mizrachi, is the brother-in-law of Panama's fugitive former leader, President Ricardo Martinelli. Both Mizrachis, and Martinelli, participated in massive corruption activities while Martinelli was president. I will not bore you with the details, and they have appeared on this blog many, many times. Aaron Mizrachi, having fled Panama, is now living comfortably in the Middle East, and his extradition, to face justice in Panama City, is extremely unlikely. Martinelli is himself living high on the hog in Miami, where dirty former leaders often go to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.
Mayer has now reportedly requested Political Asylum in Colombia, which is curious, because he is merely a white-collar career criminal, and is not wanted in Panama for anything related to his politics, or opposition to the government of President Juan Carlos Varela. Mizrachi was born into what I refer to as Panama's Syrian organized crime syndicate, due to the fact that many of its members' parents and grandparents are known to have been from Homs, and others from various Middle Eastern countries. You would be stunned to learn who Mayer's relatives are.
|Another relative: Gabriel Betesh, also now living in the Middle East|
The syndicate is a shadowy organization, many of whose members have married into related families, much like the American Mafia, creating an interlocking directorate, which engages in drug money laundering, fraud, official corruption, and theft of government funds on a grand scale. Their power, in the financial, as well as governmental, spheres, has rendered them immune from criminal prosecution, and the United States, anxious to preserve its valuable listening post on Latin America, is not inclined to interfere, notwithstanding the massive money laundering, through US banks, that the syndicate conducts. The Black Market Peso Exchange, through the Colon Free Zone, is merely the tip of the iceberg for this group.
While the Panama Papers, the Financial Pacific/Petaquilla Mine insider trading case, and assorted other financial scandals, will rock Panama, from time to time, the syndicate will continue to thrive, so long as North America and Europe continue to have their love affair with dangerous drugs from South America. for someone has to launder that money, and what better place than a jurisdiction where questions about Source of Funds, and Beneficial Ownership, never come up.
Readers who have wondered why I place Country Risk for Panama at such elevated levels now should have a better understanding of one of my reasons.