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Belmopan couple charged for aiding immigrants

GeneralBelmopan couple charged for aiding immigrants

by Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Fri. May 12, 2023

A couple from the San Martin area of Belmopan were charged separately on Friday, May 12, after they facilitated the movements of several illegal Brazilian immigrants who entered the country through the Mopan River in Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Cayo District.

The couple, 33-year-old taxi driver Kirk Hower and his girlfriend 34-year-old Gracielita Mendez, were fined $1,000 each after they pleaded guilty to the offense of aiding and transporting a group of illegal immigrants – 7 adults and 5 minors – in separate vehicles.

According to reports, when the two were busted, Hower was driving a vehicle in which there was a group of several Brazilians—38-year-old Sealite Goncalves Rodrigues, a health administrator; 37-year-old Douglas Dias Moreira; 42-year-old Eliete Grizote Celestino; and 37-year-old Rogelio Simplicio Dos Santos.

Meanwhile, Mendez was driving another vehicle in which there was another group—38-year-old Ellizama De Lima Rodrigues, an administrator; 31-year-old Sylvania Aline da Silva, a beautician; 29-year-old Renata Lorraine Silva Lino; and 5 minors.

The Brazilians appeared in the Magistrate Court in Belize City before Senior Magistrate Aretha Ford unrepresented and pleaded guilty to a single charge of illegal entry. The court then ordered that they be deported to their country of origin.

Hower and Mendez’s attorney, John Nembhard, argued in court that the couple are law-abiding citizens who made an error in their judgment. They were ordered to pay a fine, and they are expected to return to court on August 31 of this year.

Authorities are seeking one other individual, whose vehicle they believe was used in facilitating the immigrants. That vehicle is currently impounded.

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