Cuban twin brothers pleaded guilty to using a passport they were not entitled to use, while a Nigerian national pleaded not guilty to using a fake Belize visa
An AVIANCA flight touched down at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) arriving from El Salvador on Thursday, April 10, and when three passengers disembarked and presented their travel documents to Belize Immigration officers, it turned out they were traveling on fake documents and were immediately arrested and questioned, before they were charged.
Immigration officers discovered that the Guatemalan passports that twin Cuban brothers Joel and Joany Gonzalez, 40, presented were fake.
Also, upon a close examination of the Belizean visa that Nigerian national Patrick Joshua Aibaengbee, 53, presented, immigration officers realized that it was an old type of visa that is not in use anymore, so he was charged for using a fake Belizean visa.
The Gonzalez brothers pleaded guilty to a single count of using a passport they were not entitled to use.
Aibaengbee, however, decided to resist the immigration charge by pleading not guilty to his charge of using a fake Belize visa.
But the court determined that, as a foreign national, he is a flight risk, so bail was denied and he was remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court appearance date on April 29.
Hamilton fined the Gonzalez brothers $1,000, which he ordered them to pay forthwith; in default, they would have to spend six months in prison.
In his fake Guatemalan passport, Joel Jaimes Gonzalez used the name Nestor Bayona Carreno, while his brother, Joany Jaimes Gonzalez, used the name Felipe Bayona Carreno.
The maximum fine for the offense is $3,000, but Hamilton took into consideration their guilty plea and the apology they offered in their mitigation plea.
Joel spoke, telling the court through its Spanish interpreter, “Everything was done voluntarily. We acted on our own and we regret this and do apologize.” When asked for his mitigation plea, his brother said he endorsed the position stated by his brother.
According to the Immigration Department prosecutor Albert Munnings, the office was contacted when their officer at the airport noticed the discrepancies in the traveling documents of the three men, who were traveling together.
When they were taken to the Immigration Department office in Belize City and their luggage searched, the search revealed that the brothers had their Cuban passports hidden inside their luggage.
According to the Immigration officers, Aibaengbee’s Belize visa is the old stamp-type that the department has discontinued using. The new Belize visa is a sticker type and has been in use for several months now.
Immigration officials are of the view that the men were heading for the United States, using Belize as a transit point.
Also, it is believed that the Cubans used the fake Guatemalan passports because Guatemalans do not require a visa to enter Belize.