International — 07 January 2014 — by Albert J. Ciego

There are allegations coming from the north of extortion of money from Mexican nationals by Belizean police officers at the new northern border crossing known as Chactemal.

Two Mexicans reported to the Mexican authorities that on New Year’s night they were forced to pay 500 pesos, or BZ$100, and 150 pesos, or BZ$30, respectively to be released by Belize police officers who were operating a checkpoint near the Belize-Mexico border that night.

Assistant Superintendent of Police, Andrew Ramirez, told Amandala that they have no report of the incident and strongly urge the Mexicans to come forward and make an official report. Ramirez also said that police officers from other units operate in the area without consulting him.

Information to us is that one of the Mexicans told their officials that at about 2:00 New Year’s morning he approached the checkpoint on his return trip to Chetumal from the Corozal Free Zone. He was asked for his driver’s license, and he told the officers that he did not have it at the time. The police officers then reportedly requested 500 pesos for the offense, after threatening to take him to jail.

The Mexican, however, did not have 500 pesos on him, but gave the officers 150 pesos. One of the policemen reportedly grabbed the money from him and ordered him to drive away.

Shortly after, another Mexican drove up to the checkpoint and was stopped by the police. When they saw that he was intoxicated, they reportedly demanded 500 pesos for the offense.

The man reported to Mexican officials that he quickly paid the police officers the money, and he was ordered to drive away.

The man immediately drove across the border and promptly reported the incident to Mexican police.

Witnesses in the area reported that the policemen were only inspecting and extorting money from Mexicans who were returning across the border from the casinos at the Corozal Free Zone.

Assistant Superintendent Andrew Ramirez condemns the action and says that the Belize Police Department does not tolerate such behavior by its officers.

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