BELIZE CITY–Belize City police, in their operation, “Not in My City,” have been on the offensive against persons they believe are affiliates of criminal gangs, and have been entering the various gang turfs and the homes of gang-affiliated persons, arresting them for gang-related offenses, and charging them under the section of the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act, which prevents them from being granted bail at the Magistrate’s Court.
Most of the men who have been remanded to prison, however, are employed with Cisco Construction in the City’s street rehabilitation program, so the arrests of these individuals appear to be whittling down the numbers employed by the program.
Today, three more men who were employed by the program have been remanded to prison.
Maurice Felix, 29, a resident of Sanker Street, who along with his brother Emory walked free from a murder case after three Supreme Court trials, pleaded not guilty to professing to belong to a criminal gang, namely, the Gill Street Gang.
Roy Bennett and his brother Ryan, residents of Gill Street who are cousins of Felix, pleaded not guilty to the same offense when they appeared before Magistrate Adolph Lucas, Jr., this afternoon.
Members of the Magistracy have been attending a seminar in San Ignacio since yesterday, Thursday, so there was no Magistrate’s Court session in Belize City, but this afternoon, Lucas returned from the seminar to arraign the three men, who have been in police custody since yesterday, Thursday, when they were arrested at the Bennett’s home for allegedly being in possession of 0.2 grams of cannabis.
All three pleaded not guilty to possession of a controlled drug. Due to the nature of the gang-related offense, however, Magistrate Lucas remanded the three cousins into custody until their next court date on November 7.
In court, the men, who appeared unrepresented, told Magistrate Lucas that they are all working with the Cisco program to pave Central American Boulevard. They told the court that they were initially arrested and charged with possession of a controlled drug, for 0.2 grams of cannabis.
After being in police custody for possession of a controlled drug, they said, they were visited by the Gang Suppression Unit, who laid the charge of belonging to a gang on them.
When the men return to court on their adjournment date on November 7, 2014, they will appear before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, in whose court their case has been assigned.