ORANGE WALK TOWN, Mon. Oct. 5, 2015–Guatemalan Fran Walder Lopez Portillo, 22, a bus driver of Barrio Santa Elena, Melchor de Mencos, Peten, Guatemala, was arrested and charged with 11 counts of human smuggling.
He pleaded guilty to the charges at the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court on Friday and he was fined $11,000, to be paid immediately, and in default, 66 months in jail.
Portillo has not been able to pay the fine, and has since been remanded to the Belize Central Prison, where he will begin to serve his 5-year-6-month jail sentence.
The 11 persons he was accused of smuggling were 11 Salvadorans, two of whom were minors, aged 15 and 5 years.
The two minors were handed over to the Department of Human Services, where they will be kept to be handed over to the Salvador Embassy, which will return the boys to their country.
The 9 adults were all charged with illegal entry. They were all taken to the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court on Friday, where they pleaded guilty to the charges and they were fined $1,000 plus $5.00 cost of court each.
Police reported that they all paid their fines, and have all been returned to their country.
The incident occurred at about 12:30 Friday afternoon on the Philip Goldson Highway in Tower Hill near the junction of the Tower Hill Factory and the Chan Pine Ridge Road.
Orange Walk Police on anti-crime patrol stopped a vehicle in Tower Hill and found that the van was loaded with the illegal immigrants.