International — 25 October 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego

Although an order has been handed down by the Belize City Magistrate Court for Gary Seawell, 36, of Ladyville, to be extradited to the United States to stand trial on charges of drug importation and money laundering, he is slated to stand trial in the Belize Supreme Court to face unrelated charges – two counts of keeping prohibited material, for a hand grenade and a bulletproof vest that were in his possession; four counts of keeping prohibited firearms; three counts of keeping prohibited ammunition; and two counts of keeping ammunition without a gun license.

He was also charged with two instances of drug trafficking for 315 grams of ganja and 3 kilos of cocaine respectively. He is presently on remand at the Belize Central Prison, awaiting trial at the Supreme Court.

The incident from which the charges stem, occurred about 10:30 on February 15, 2010, at a farm in the Esperanza area in the Cayo District. Police on an anti-drug operation said that they went to an area in Esperanza where they executed a search warrant on a small farmhouse that was about 4 miles into the bushes flanking the George Price Highway.

Police said that in the house at the time was Gary Seawell, who was wanted on an international warrant by the US for drug trafficking and money laundering, and he was also wanted by Cayo police on a warrant issued by the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court for failure to attend court for a drug trafficking case after he was busted with three kilos of crack cocaine. Seawell had been offered bail, but had subsequently disappeared.

Police said that they served the search warrant and began a search of Gary Seawell’s house, in his presence. At the time, the house was also occupied by Seawell’s common-law-wife, from Belize City.

During the search of the farmhouse, police found four assault rifles, one hand grenade, an assortment of ammunition, a bulletproof vest and 316 grams of weed.

Seawell and his companion were immediately arrested and charged with the offenses. They were taken to the San Ignacio Magistrate Court, where they were remanded.

Police said that the hand grenade was of British origin and believed to be one of the 24 grenades that were stolen from the British Army Depot.

Also among the high powered assault rifles was an M4 carbine rifle that was reported stolen from the BDF compound at Price Barracks in mid-January 2010.

According to the USA Today, an online newspaper, in an article dated July 12, 2007, titled, “Sentencing set for alleged drug smuggler,” Barney Clark, a criminal investigator with the Internal Revenue Service, stumbled onto the alleged drug smuggling scheme in 1996 while doing routine checks of Western Union money transfers.

He started noticing repeat transfers from Columbus to Houston, and thought something illegal was afoot. The US government opened its file in 1996; the first indictments were issued in 1997, and dozens of prosecutions of the couriers followed quickly, but Mark and Gary Seawell fled the country before they could be arrested.

The paper alleged that in Columbus, Gary Seawell would recruit the couriers, usually young people in their early to mid-20s, and promised them $1,000 and a free trip to Cancun, Mexico, in exchange for transporting the drugs, investigators said.

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