Manuel Antonio Noriega

Noriega, Manuel Antonio (mänwĕlˈ äntōˈnyō nôryāˈgə) [key], 1938–, Panamanian general. Commander of the Panamanian Defense Forces from 1983, Noriega consolidated the strong-armed rule inherited from Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, and became the de facto leader of Panama. A one-time operative for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, he was implicated in drug trafficking, the sale of U.S. secrets to Cuba, and other illegal activities. U.S. officials urged him to step down (Jan., 1988), but he refused. Following the murder of a U.S. marine on the streets of Panama City, President George H. W. Bush ordered troops to Panama (Dec., 1989). Noriega was captured and brought to the United States for trial. He was convicted (1992) on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and drug trafficking and served 17 years in prison. France moved to extradite Noriega after his sentence ended, but he remained in U.S. custody until 2010, unsuccessfully fighting extradition. Convicted in France of money laundering, he was extradited in 2011 to Panama, where he had been convicted in absentia of corruption and murder, to serve his sentences there.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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