Manuel Antonio Noriega, the former Panamanian dictator who was ousted by US forces in 1989 due to his ties with drug traffickers, has died at the age of 83.

While there is still no official known cause of death, Noriega has been in intensive care due to a brain hemorrhage following a May 7th surgery to remove a benign tumor. His death is reported to have happened at approximately 11 p.m. Monday at Panama City's Santo Tomas Hospital.

Former US ally turned drug-trafficker

In 1988, Manuel Noriega was indicted by US federal courts on charges of drug-trafficking.

Prior to his indictment, Noriega had a long standing relationship with US Central Intelligence Agency whose mission at the time was to combat the spread of communism in Central America.

Noriega, likely with help from the CIA, backed Omar Torrijos in the 1968 coup that removed President Arnulfo Arias from power. General Torrijos' death in a mysterious 1981 plane crash eventually lead to Noriega becoming the de facto ruler of Panama in 1983.

During the 1980's, the power hungry dictator began to play both sides working for both the CIA and for Colombian drug cartels. It was discovered that Noriega had ties to Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel.

Operation Just Cause

Shortly after the US indicted Noriega for drug-trafficking, former President Jimmy Carter, who was leading an international delegation charged with overseeing Panama's election, announced that government troops had seized the election and were refusing to give up control of the country.

After failed coups in 1988 and 1989 Noriega and his national assembly declared war on the United States.

President George H. Bush launched "Operation Just Cause" to remove the dictator and restore order to Panama. Over 27,000 US troops were involved in the operation, marking the largest US military action since Vietnam.

As US Special Forces cut off any chance of escape by sinking his boat and private jet in a daring mission that left 4 Navy Seals dead and 9 wounded.

With his options becoming limited and a $1 million reward for his capture offered, Noriega sought refuge in a Vatican mission in Panama City.

Troops surrounded the mission and blasted rock music at the building, eventually leading to Noriega's surrender.

Former Dictator stands trial

Noriega was brought to the US to stand trial and was found guilty of drug-trafficking, racketeering and money laundering.

This trial marked unique circumstances, as a world leader was made to stand trial for criminal charges in a foreign country. Manuel Noriega was sentenced to 40 years in prison -- a sentence that was later reduced to 30 years.

In 2010 Noriega was extradited to France to serve a 7 year prison sentence but was granted a conditional release to Panama where he was to serve a 20 year sentence. In the months leading up to his surgery Noriega was granted house arrest in order to prepare for his operation.

Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela issued this statement via Twitter: "The death of Manual A. Noriega closes a chapter in our history; his daughters and his relatives deserve to bury him peace."

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