~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
GEN Noriega Before
ID number 38699-079 After
Manuel  Antonio Noriega
1938 -

        Panamanian general, Commander of the Panamanian Defense Forces from 1983. COL Noriega consolidated the strong-armed rule inherited from GEN Omar Torrijos Herrera, and through the use of his Defense Forces, made himself a General and became the de facto leader of Panama.

 A one-time operative for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to maintain stability in the Canal Zone, he became a major liability to the region when he became personally involved in drug trafficking with the South American cartel's, the sale of U.S. secrets to Cuba, and other illegal activities.

His Defense Forces became the enforcement arm of his organized criminal activities. They expanded their unchecked power over all aspects of civil rule, terrorizing the Panamanian people.

In January 1988 he was indicted for drug trafficking, and U.S. officials urged him to step down, but he refused.

In March he organized the Battalions de la Dignidad (Dignity Battalions), a paramilitary force of hardcore supporters who wore maroon shirts and disrupted public rallies, beat political opposition leaders and their followers.

        On 15 December 1989 GEN Noriega declared Panama was in a state of war against the United States.

 Following the murder of a U.S. marine on the streets of Panama City, and fearful of the safety of the Canal Zone becoming hostage to his activities, President George H. W. Bush ordered troops to launch a secret invasion of Panama on 20 December 1989 called Operation JUST CAUSE.

GEN Noriega was captured and brought to the United States to stand trial. His Defense Forces were neutralized, detained, and civil control of the country was returned to the elected government and courts to deal with their criminal activities.


       He was convicted in U.S. Federal Court on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and drug trafficking, and in April 1992 sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Noriega's prison sentence was reduced  to 17 years for good behavior, and on 9 September 2007 he was  extradited to French custody to face additional drug trafficking charges. He was again convicted on 7 July 2010 and sentenced to seven years.

The Panamanian courts requested his immediate extradition to face human rights violations. The French government agreed to the extradition, but only after he finishes his sentence.

Use Your Browser Button To Return