Headline — 22 February 2013 — by Rochelle Gillett
5 Salvadoran women caught in human trafficking ring

Police say the females were a part of a “shipment” busted on Tuesday

Yesterday, seven persons were brought to court where they were deemed prohibited immigrants after police and immigration officers intercepted a white van they were travelling in on the Philip Goldson Highway.

During the operation, which occurred at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the tires of the van were shot out, allowing some of its occupants to be captured, but police believe that some of the passengers, which included women, were able to escape at that time.

These women were apprehended in Los Lagos yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, by police, and they were learned to be Yessenia Guadalupe Santamaria Gonzalez, 18; Miriam Santamaria Guevara, 19; and Maribel Antonia Guevara, 24, all of Chalatenango, El Salvador.

Two minors, 17, were also apprehended along with the three women, but they were handed over to the Human Development Services.

It is believed that the women illegally entered the country via the Mopan River in Benque Viejo, Cayo, and, with the help of locals, were being facilitated with their journey to United States.

When the women appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser, they were unrepresented when the charge of illegally entry into Belize was read to them. They all pleaded guilty to the charges and were each fined $1,000, payable forthwith, or spend 6 months in prison.

Maribel Guevara started crying when she learnt that if she couldn’t pay the fine immediately, she would have to go to prison, and told the Senior Magistrate that “I am guilty of the offense, but all I want is to go home”, through the use of a translator.

But it was explained to her that since she broke the law of the land, she had to suffer the consequences, and those consequences were the fine or jail time. She then asked if it was possible for her to make a call to her family so they could send the money for her to pay the fine.

Miriam Guevara and Yessenia Gonzalez were also emotional when they learned their fate, but remained silent in court after that. None of them were able to pay their fines, and they were taken to the Hattieville Prison to start serving out their sentences.

The Senior Magistrate also granted removal orders requested by the Immigration Officer, and explained to the women that they would be returned to their country of origin either after they pay the fines, or after serving out their time, whichever came first.

As mentioned above, it is believed by authorities that the women are a part of the group that was intercepted at the junction of the Boom Road and the Philip Goldson Highway.

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