At Least 44 US-Bound Migrants Arrested After Migrants Destroy Shelter, Vehicles In ‘Tumultuous Fight’

Panamanian authorities arrested 44 migrants after a fight broke out early Saturday at a shelter, leading to the destruction of 10 modular shelter units and vehicles, according to official statements.


“The partners of both migrants intervened in this incident, triggering a tumultuous fight between the different groups that were there,” the statement reads. Panama’s National Border Service and SENAFRONT units attempted to restore order, but “other migrants, approximately 250, [went against] the SENAFRONT units, which causes a greater deployment of our units in order to safeguard the lives of third parties,” the statement noted.

The shelter sustained “serious damage,” according to the statement.

“Irregular migrants caused serious damage to the San Vicente shelter, where they destroyed official and civilian vehicles, at least 10 modular units set on fire, as well as the modular unit of MIGRATION and SENAFRONT units in the operations center of said station,” the MP tweeted. Pictures appearing to show burning and burnt-out modular trailers and an official pickup truck with deflated tires accompanied the post.

“So far, some 44 irregular migrants who participated in these acts of vandalism have been identified and detained and will be investigated and prosecuted before the public ministry for damage to state property,” the MP statement noted.

The authorities did not report any casualties in the statement.


Samira Gozaine, Director of Panama’s National Migration Service, said the vandalism resulted in over $800,000 in losses.

Almost 250,000 illegal migrants crossed the approximately 60-mile Darién gap, which runs through 100,000 square-miles of difficult terrain astride southern Panama and northern Colombia, in 2022 in their northward march to the U.S.according to Human Rights Watch . By contrast, more than 130,000 migrants crossed in 2021, and fewer than 11,000 per year on average reportedly crossed between 2010 and 2020, according to the organization.


More than 520,000 migrants crossed the Gap by the end of 2023, a quarter of them being minors, Reuters reported. Venezuelan economic migrants reportedly contributed to the spike, in addition to migrants from Ecuador, Haiti and China, among others.

Gozaine reportedly called the situation “a national security problem.”

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