After being caught transporting thirteen undocumented migrants, a BDF soldier is now awaiting both a criminal and an internal investigation.
By Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 20, 2022
Just over a week ago, a Belize Defence Force soldier was detained in the Cayo District for transporting thirteen undocumented migrants, and according to the Minister of National Defence and Border Security, Hon. Oscar Mira, that soldier has since been placed on disciplinary leave.
In an interview on Monday, Hon. Mira told reporters that in addition to the current ongoing police investigation, an internal investigation is pending as well.
“Unfortunately, it’s not something we like to report on, but it is the reality. For some reason, I think that the security forces in the past have been coerced to cooperate with these individuals,” he stated.
Regardless, said Minister Mira, the BDF holds a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to human smuggling. He noted that the soldier has since been placed on leave and is awaiting disciplinary action.
“We will not tolerate the Belize Defence Force or any of our security forces to be part of this ring that is bringing in illegal immigrants into Belize. It’s unfortunate. This is not what the Belize Defence Force is, and we will not let one individual tarnish the good name of the Belize Defence Force,” he added.
On the night of Friday, June 10, a Toyota 4Runner, being driven by the soldier, was intercepted in Bullet Tree Village by the Mobile Interdiction Team (MIT). Also in the vehicle were thirteen persons who could not produce any proper documentation. As a result, both the driver and his passengers were detained by the MIT. The thirteen undocumented migrants, all Ecuadoran nationals and six of whom are children, were then handed over to the Immigration Department.
According to Minister Mira, as part of the ongoing investigation, the police are working on ascertaining the identity of the person responsible for the attempted smuggling, since the soldier was only the driver.
“This person was just a driver. He wasn’t responsible. So we want to make sure we get to the bottom of who is responsible for these undocumented migrants to be crossing the border,” he said.