Daily El Pais in Costa Rica quotes a number of sources today implicating Panama's president Martinelli in massive laundering of drug money from Mexico through his Super99 supermarket chain, his election campaigns and a charitable foundation he runs.
According to El País, the president's cousin, Ramón Ricardo Martinelli Corro, was arrested in Mexico as then Panamanian drug czar José Abel Almengor Echeverría blew up the scheme, thus avoiding that Martinelli Corro would be arrested in Panama and expose his accomplices in a massive money laundering scheme for the violent Beltrán Leyva drug cartel. Almengor was then appointed as a Supreme Court magistrate by Martinelli - a move that was widely protested.
The paper quotes sources related to the investigation from Panama, Mexico and the US saying that drug money was used to fund Martinelli's election campaigns. Martinelli Corro was the treasurer of Cambio Democratico, Martinelli's political party.
El País also alleges that the US has lowered its diplomatic relations with Panama by moving its ambassador to London without replacing her because of Martinelli's involvement in money laundering and his authoritarian ruling of the country. It quotes high government officials from the US as being worried about the "mafia style" government of Martinelli and his team. The Obama administration feels, according to El País, that they are the only counterweight to Martinelli's mobster policies.
And as if that's not enough, the paper quotes Panamanian sources from the public ministry saying that Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez was removed from her post to stall an advancing investigation into massive money laundering through Martinelli's business empire.
The bombshell is published just before Martinelli visits Costa Rica for the inauguration of its new president. Is there an arrest warrant out yet?