While the Belize Police Department – which has recently been in the public spotlight for various allegations of wrongdoing – wrestles to maintain its integrity, three police officers from the Cayo District are among the most recent law enforcement personnel to bring the department into disrepute after they were found with contraband goods this past weekend.
Amandala understands that about 4:20 p.m. on Sunday evening, acting on information received, Customs officials went to the Arenal Road near the Benque border, where they saw two vehicles. The vehicles were reportedly ordered to stop, but one of the vehicles sped off, after which Customs officials set chase.
When they caught up with the vehicle, they discovered that it was being driven by a police officer who appeared to be intoxicated. He was reportedly accompanied by other individuals, including another police officer.
Customs officials then reportedly found seven and a half cases of contraband beer, and three cases of soft drinks along with fireworks and cigarettes in the vehicle.
Inside the other vehicle, in which there was a third police officer, they found 11 cases of beer and 12 three-liter soft drinks. The value of all the contraband goods that were discovered in total amounted to three thousand dollars.
The three officers later escaped criminal charges because two civilian occupants of the respective vehicles took responsibility for the un-customed goods, and they (the civilians) settled out of court by simply paying a Customs fine. If the matter had actually gone to court, all the occupants of the two vehicles would have been jointly charged.
The vehicles, which were initially taken to the Benque Viejo Police Station, were subsequently released.
We were told that one of the officers is attached to the Benque Viejo Police Station, while the other two are currently posted at the San Ignacio Police Station.
This afternoon, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Miguel Segura, told the media what he knew about the incident. Segura said, “I was briefed about an incident over the weekend; however, I would need to confirm it with Customs officials. In these cases, the police would normally get a report from the agency itself, and if there’s violation of the Police Act or the disciplinary code, we will also proceed with that. There’s no two ways about it [in terms of] the zero tolerance the Commissioner has in regards to the violation of the Police Act; [however] Customs will have to assist us in the proceedings if we are to proceed [with] disciplinary [action].”
According to Segura, he was only briefed about a Customs operation in which three officers were intercepted with a substantial amount of contraband, but suggested that the media find out the exact quantities and value of the goods from Customs officials, who actually engaged in the operations. He said that the officers may still face disciplinary actions although they settled out of court, since it is a violation of the Police Act.
KREM News contacted the Officer in Charge of the San Ignacio Police station today, and he told them that the report is currently being investigated with regards to the officer who ran the Customs checkpoint in an attempt to flee the scene, and added that disciplinary actions should follow.