Highlights — 15 July 2017 — by Micah Goodin
Belize teen girl saved from human traffickers

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 13, 2017–The Immigration Department has long warned Belizeans against leaving the country through unregulated border crossings, especially along the Orange Walk border, which leads to Botes, Mexico.

Today, the Senator representing the Non-Governmental Community, Osmany Salas, recounted a case of suspected human trafficking which would have been successful if authorities had not acted swiftly.

He recounted that last night, a woman informed him that her teenage daughter had run away from home. He revealed that the worried mother was able to ascertain that her daughter had crossed the border at Botes, along with several other girls who had all been in the company of an unidentified man and woman.

He learnt that the teen left her home after an unidentified woman visited her home. The two boarded the bus to Santa Cruz.

While on the bus, an unidentified man joined them and paid their bus fares. According to Salas, this was, “all the makings of human trafficking.”

With suspicions high, he said that he immediately emailed copies of the teen’s identification card and a recent photo of her to the Embassy in Mexico.

Thereafter, a police report was filed and a copy was emailed to the Mexican Embassy.

The police report and the IDs were then sent to the Mexican Foreign Ministry so that the Mexican authorities could assist in the search of the teen.

This morning, the teen contacted her mother and asked if they could meet in Chetumal.

Learning this, Salas contacted the Embassy in Mexico, which then passed information to Mexican law enforcement personnel.

Upon seeing the teen, Mexican police in casual clothing, who were in an unmarked vehicle, quickly detained her.

“The police cars came from everywhere and within seconds, the frightened teenager was in police custody,” wrote Salas.
Tonight, that teen is at home.

According to Salas, “She is lucky to have a second chance. The sad reality is that this is not the case for the vast majority of girls who go missing.”

“Human trafficking is happening all around us and on a daily basis. It does not only trap women from other countries in Belize… As I saw today, it also traps our Belizean girls and women in other countries. We have been turning a blind eye to this problem for far too long. We don’t realize it until it hits close to home. It does not have to be this way,” he added.

According to him, the teen was already offered a job in Chetumal with a promise that she would also work in Cancun on weekends.

He further revealed that Mexican police indicated if they had arrived an hour later in Chetumal, the teen would have been lost.
According to Salas, she would have been, “Another lost terrorized soul, enslaved to serve the criminal money-making machine of the underworld and to satisfy the sexual fantasies of men with no conscience.”

For their efforts in recovering the teen, Salas thanked, “Belize’s Ambassador to Mexico Oliver del Cid and Counselor Carlos Montero, Officer in Charge of Immigration at the Northern Border Ms. Estrada, Maria del Carmen and Orlando de la Fuente for lending us their Telcel SIM card, the mother’s concerned family members, and Comandante Varela and his amazing staff at the Secretaria de Seguridad Publica in Chetumal, Quintana Roo.”

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