General — 26 September 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Accused cops in US$7 million drug plane bust get Supreme Court bail

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 20, 2018– The bail applications for two police officers and a civilian from the Orange Walk District who had been arrested in connection with the landing of a drug plane in that district, succeeded today when the matter was heard by newly appointed Supreme Court justice Francis Cumberbatch.

After one week at the Belize Central Prison where they were being held on remand, Senior Superintendent of Police David Chi, 53, who was the officer in charge of the Orange Walk police formation, along with his fellow accused, police corporal Norman Anthony, 52, and Blue Creek resident, Peter Friesen, Jr., were granted bail of $150,000 cash.

Chi and Friesen were represented by attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley, while attorney Leroy Banner represented Anthony. The three Belizeans were charged along with two Mexican nationals, for whom no bail application had been filed as yet.

Senior Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith, who represented the Crown, had no objection to the granting of bail by the court to the three applicants, but submitted that the bail be set at no less than $150,000, given that the accusations against the men are related to the landing of a drug plane carrying a cargo of cocaine that was said to be worth US$7 million.

Justice Cumberbatch agreed and set the bail at $150,000 that could either be deposited by the accused men or presented in the form of two to four sureties covering the amount.

The court also ordered that the men surrender all travel documents to the court and they are not to leave the jurisdiction without permission from the court. In addition, they were ordered not to interfere with any prosecution witnesses either directly or indirectly, and they are to report to the police station three times per week.

The three Belizeans are charged in connection with the landing of a single-engine Cessna plane which touched down in the Blue Creek area of the Orange Walk District on September 9. The plane and its cargo were seized by police and some of the suspects were arrested after being in a gun battle with police which reportedly lasted half an hour to forty-five minutes, during which the pilot of the aircraft managed to escape.

Mexican nationals Eli Figueroa Nunez, 33, a businessman and resident of Campeche, Mexico; and Azariaz Silvero Manzano, 20, a ranch worker of Quintana Roo, are charged with drug trafficking of 566 kilos of cocaine that was brought on the plane.

Police charged Nunez, Manzano, Chi, Anthony, Friesen “and others” with abetment of the importation of controlled drug — with the following statement being made: “…On 9th September at Northern Community, in the Orange Walk Judicial District, [they] purposely facilitated the commission of the crime of importation of a controlled drug, to wit 556.2 kilograms of cocaine, by their act, namely assisting in the landing of blue and white Cessna single engine aircraft with markings N286TC which was laden with the said cocaine.”

In addition, police also charged Chi, Anthony, Friesen “and others” with conspiracy to land a plane at an unlicensed aerodrome.

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