1951 The United States Mutual Security Act provided funds to reconstitute Panama’s police force (Panamanian Defense Forces, PDF) as a national army in attempt to supress Marxism in the region.
1963 Manuel Noriega becomes on of the CIA’s “assets,” helping him ascend the ranks.
1968 October: The Panamanian military lead a coup overthrowing the recently-elected president. Military occupation began–Omar Torrijos takes power of the army, Manuel Noriega takes on the role of main hitman and spy.
1983 Omar Torrijos dies in a plane crash and Manuel Noriega becomes Commandant of the PDF.
1985 Noriega removes puppet President Barletta, who had been chosen by the United States, thereby falling out of favor with the U.S.
1988 U.S. freezes Panama’s assets
1989 December, The United States invades Panama and presumably confiscates the Noriega Boxes soon thereafter. It is assumed that the boxes are left in the Canal Zone.
2000 The United States turns over the Canal Zone to Panama, and reportedly removed the documents from Panama and microfilmed them. To where they were moved remains unknown.