BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 26, 2017–A routine police check on a young man riding a bicycle in the Fort George area of Belize City has led to the detention of three other members of his family, who are Salvadorans and are all in Belize illegally.
The four Salvadorans appeared in the Magistrate’s Court before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser. They are Moses Diaz Valdez, 18; Santos Emiliano Valdez, 18; Cesar Gomez Valdez, 19; and Maria Valdez, 39, who were all charged with possession of a utensil for the smoking of illegal drugs, and possession of a controlled drug for 1.6 grams of cannabis.
Three of the accused pleaded not guilty to the two charges, but Santos Emiliano Valdez accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty to the two charges.
The court accepted his guilty plea and the charges against the three others were dismissed.
Magistrate Fraser told Valdez, “I cannot impose a fine on you, because you are in the country illegally.”
She sentenced Valdez to 3 months in prison for the possession of utensil charge and 3 months in prison for the possession of controlled drug charge, but stipulated that the two sentences are to run concurrently, which means, Valdez will only serve 3 months in prison.
Magistrate Fraser explained to the other three that they would not be free to leave the court, because the police will hand them over to the Immigration Department.
The four were living on Holy Emmanuel Boulevard in the Gungulung area of Lake Independence.
On Saturday, June 24, two police officers who were on mobile patrol in the Fort George Area, on North Park Street, saw a Hispanic man riding a bicycle and they approached him in the police patrol vehicle and stopped him.
Police exited their vehicle and told the man that they would conduct a search on him for illegal drugs and firearms. The search yielded nothing illegal or incriminating. When the police asked the man what was his purpose and if he had documents permitting his stay in Belize, he hesitated at first and then told the officers that his passport was at his home.
Police reported that when they arrived at Santos Valdez’s home, they saw a man running up the stairs.
All the occupants were informed that the police would search the house. The search yielded some suspected cannabis on a book shelf along with a glass weed cutter.
The occupants of the house were all informed of the offices committed and they were escorted to the police station, where the suspected cannabis was weighed and amounted to 1.6 grams.
Before they left the courtroom, Magistrate Fraser asked Santos Valdez how he felt about being responsible for his mother, brother and uncle being deported back to El Salvador.
Valdez did not respond. He hung his head and said not a word to the court interpreter, who was translating between Spanish and English.