General — 16 August 2017 — by Micah Goodin
6 Guatemalan men busted panning for Belize gold

SAN IGNACIO, Mon. Aug. 14, 2017–Over the weekend, six Guatemalan men were busted inside the Chiquibul National Park panning for gold.

According to a statement issued by the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), at around 3 o’ clock on Saturday afternoon, soldiers of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and FCD park rangers were on patrol in the Chiquibul.

The patrol unit reportedly heard voices coming from a camp located near the Ceibo Chico Creek, situated at the south end of the national park.

When the patrol unit got closer to where the voices were coming from, they observed four men inside a pit digging, while two other men were carrying water in small containers.

According to the FCD, the water is used to sieve the earth coming out from the pit to separate the gold deposits.

The patrol unit quickly detained the men, identified as Agusto Perez Gonzalez, 38; Wilfredo Antoniel Chavez, 26; Dimas Espana, 18; Jesus Espana, 17; Henry Lopez, 17; and Victor Aldana Perez, 17.

A further inspection of their camps led to the discovery of bundles of clothes, food items, machetes and a homemade shotgun.

The men, who were busted about 8 kilometers inside Belize in the Chiquibul National Park, were then escorted to the Ceibo Chico Conservation Post and thereafter, taken to Millonario.

From there, the men were then transported in a BDF truck to the San Ignacio Police Station shortly after 8 o’clock on Sunday morning, where they faced charges of illegal entry, mineral extraction without a permit and defacing a protected area.

Today, Amandala contacted the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court, which indicated that the men will appear before the court on Tuesday.

Less than two weeks ago, Guatemalan nationals Anibal Quiix Cucul and Jose Amilcar Garcia Morales were busted panning for gold in the Ceibo Chico area of the Chiquibul. They were both arrested and charged for illegal entry into Belize and also for illegally operating inside a protected area without the use of a permit.

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