Sentencing tomorrow, Friday
A Guatemalan couple who was living and working in Belize legally was remanded to prison until tomorrow, Friday, when Magistrate Dale Cayetano will determine what sentence to impose after the couple pleaded guilty to using various Belizean identification documents which they were not legally entitled to use.
The couple used the identities of deceased Belizeans to obtain citizenship to live and work in Belize.
This afternoon, immigration officers who had conducted a sweep on Caye Caulker turned up at court with eight more persons they are accusing of being in Belize with fraudulent documents. But the accused persons could not be arraigned, because there was no magistrate available to read the charges to them.
A source at the Immigration Department told Amandala that the department spearheaded an investigation which began sometime in March, when a Guatemalan turned up to apply for a social security card to which he was not entitled and the authorities at the Social Security Board handed him over to police, who alerted the Immigration Department.
Alfredo Orlando Gonzalez Marcos, 41, a Guatemalan from Quetzal Tenango who worked as an X-ray technician at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, and his common-law wife, Marleny Elizabeth Castellanos, 45, believed to be the ringleader behind the illegal Belize documents scheme, pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to the use of Belizean documents which they were not entitled to use, when they were arraigned on the charges before Magistrate Cayetano.
Marcos, who is originally from Quetzal Tenango, Guatemala, was charged with the following six offences: (1) One count of using a document he was not entitled to use – specifically a Belizean Social Security Card, #77640 issued on July 1, 2010; (2) one count of using a Belizean voter’s identification card #213529 dated 18th March 1999, a document he was not entitled to use; (3) one count for using a Belize passport #P0201772 issued on May 22, 2012; (4) one count for using a Belize birth certificate #188 dated February 25, 1999, in the name of Raquel Castellanos, for the purpose of obtaining a Belizean nationality; (5) one count for using a Belize nationality certificate #1684299 volume 2, dated March 12, 1999, to obtain a Belizean passport he was not entitled to obtain; and (6) one count for using a Belize temporary border permit, #8240, issued on 12th February, 2013.
Castellanos was charged with four counts of using documents she was not entitled to use. She was charged with one count of using a Belizean Social Security card #00044779 issued on July 19, 2010, a document she was not entitled to use; one count for using a certificate she was not entitled to use — a Belize nationality certificate #1684-2, and volume 1 issued on April 8, 2002 —to obtain a Belizean passport; one count of using a Belize birth certificate dated September 9, 1999, in the name of Raquel Castellanos, for the purpose of obtaining a nationality certificate; and one count of using a Belizean passport, #P0201771, issued on May 23, 2012, a document she was not entitled to use.
Following her guilty plea, Castellanos expressed surprise and became emotional to the point of uncontrollable tears when Cayetano remanded her to prison. She had to be consoled by one of her three daughters, all of whom were born in Belize.
Marcos and Castellanos came under the Immigration Department’s radar when an applicant for a social security card presented a nationality certificate which raised suspicion and the police were called in to investigate the man. The man was handed over to immigration officers, and he cooperated, fingering the couple in the process.
The man told immigration officers that Castellanos was the mastermind behind the process through which he obtained the Belizean documents.
But as the Immigration Department was closing in on Castellanos, she attempted to make a run for the border and was apprehended at the Western border around 4:30 p.m. yesterday. When she was apprehended, she was travelling with her 22-year-old daughter, who resides in the King’s Park area of Belize City.
She was detained and escorted to the Belize City Immigration Department.
Marcos was picked up at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital compound and taken to the Immigration Office in Belize City.
When the couple return to court for sentencing on Friday, it is expected that the Immigration Department will bring more charges against Castellanos.