The high command of Eastern Division Police have been claiming a number of successes in case-solving – including their reported investigation into the arson of Kimmies Bar and the resulting death of Jacqueline Arteaga, a mother of 3, which resulted in the arrest of a suspect who has been charged with arson and murder.
They have also reported that their crackdown on “quality of life” offences has led to 287 being arrested and 162 prosecuted.
An extortion ring has been busted, in connection with which two have been arrested and remanded to prison, and four members of the vicious MS 13 gang, found in Belize City, were arrested and charged with displaying gang insignia, the police have stated. They have also noted that 9 guns were found and confiscated.
The announcement was made during a press interview held at the Racoon Street Police Headquarters Conference Room at about 2:00 Monday afternoon, by the new Officer Commanding Eastern Division Police, Assistant Commissioner Dezerie Philips, who was named Woman of the Year 2014 by the US Embassy. She was flanked by Senior Superintendent Alden Dawson, Commander of Precinct 1 Police; Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster , Commander of Operations and Deputy Commander of Eastern Division; Assistant Superintendent Hillberto Romero, Officer Commanding Crimes Investigation Branch; and Superintendent Alford Grinage, Commander of Precinct 2 police.
ACP Philips specified that the guns which were confiscated include three 9mm pistols; one 380 pistol; a 5.56 Galil assault rifle; a 22 rifle; a 357 Magnum revolver; and a 38 Special Smith and Wesson revolver.
Philips also mentioned that the permanent police vehicle checkpoint located at Mile 4 on the George Price Highway, near the entrance to Belizean Beach, has been relocated further up the highway, near Burdon Canal Bridge, where it can be more effective, since criminals have been circumventing the original checkpoint.
In detailing the results of the investigation into the destruction of Kimmies Bar and surrounding buildings by fire, and the resulting death of Jacqueline Arteaga, 23, who was a mother of three and was three months pregnant, the officers announced that they have arrested and charged Francisco Rodriguez, 21, a Central American, for murder and arson for his involvement in starting the blaze.
The deadly fire, which occurred on the morning of Wednesday, June 25, completely destroyed two large buildings on Newtown Barracks in Belize City, and Arteaga was trapped in the upper flat of Kimmie’s Bar, where she lived.
Further investigation revealed that Rodriguez was a part of an extortion ring that extorted money from a businessman of Orange Walk Town.
ASP Hilberto Romero said that Rodriguez was also involved in an armed robbery in Benque Viejo, for which he was arrested and charged in the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court, where he was found guilty and handed a 7-year prison sentence. Rodriguez will be brought to Belize City to be arraigned for arson and murder for the destruction of Kimmie’s Bar and the death of Arteaga.
Romero said that they are confident that he was the one who destroyed the buildings and caused the death of the young mother.
The officers went on to document an increasing number of arrests for minor offenses like loitering, riding bicycles on the sidewalk and drinking in public. According to Sr. Supt. Broaster, the laws are in the books, and are now being enforced. Broaster said that bicycle owners are now required to get the proper lights, which is a white spotlight, affixed to their bicycles. Blinking and Christmas tree lights on bicycles will not be accepted, he said.
In regards to their investigation into the brutal home invasion that occurred on Mopan Street at about 4:50 Saturday morning, in which four tacos vendors were shot (two of whom died), Sr. Supt Dawson said that three men have been detained. The home was invaded by two killers bent on robbery.
ACP Philips urges the public to continue to cooperate with the police and assist in the war against crime, so that residents of Belize City can once more feel safe.
This was the first press brief given by ACP Philips since she took over command of the huge Eastern Division Police Formation, which includes the entire Belize District and Belize City.