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Home Headline Cracking down on “cartel cops”

Cracking down on “cartel cops”

“We do have intelligence that there are police officers working with the cartels; we can’t run away from it,” Commissioner of Police Chester Williams told local media. 

BELMOPAN, Mon. Nov. 29, 2021 —  During an interview today in Belmopan, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams responded to and confirmed some of the statements made by a police prosecutor during a presentation to the court of reasons for the prosecution’s objection to the granting of bail to four officers detained in connection with a drug plane landing in Bladen village, Toledo, early in November. Those statements, which suggested that there is a well-coordinated rogue operation within the Police Department through which the bidding of drug cartels is carried out by crooked officers, had stunned attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley, who is representing those officers, and he had told local media that such claims should be taken very seriously.

Commissioner Williams did not shy away from the claims and stated clearly that they have intelligence which indicates that some officers are involved in these operations and are accomplices to these criminal organizations. He told the media that they have resorted to an iron-fisted approach to sift out these officers from the ranks of the Police Department.

“I have to be objective, I have to be open, and I have to be honest. I cannot hide the fact that, yes, it [does] exist, and some might say but why the Commissioner is saying that. It’s the truth, and you cannot run away from the truth. What we need to do, is having known the reality, is to do what we can to identify those police officers and get rid of them. “ Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said.

The Commissioner of Police, however, criticized attorney Bradley, who expressed alarm and concern when he heard the police prosecutor refer to such rogue elements in court. The COMPOL pointed out accurately that Bradley has been a leading defense attorney for those persons implicated in narco operations. Williams even revealed that in this instance the Police Department had approached Bradley and asked him to serve as a special prosecutor in the case, but he, a renowned criminal defense attorney, had opted to represent the implicated police officers instead.

“When we had the previous plane landing, with the four police officers at Bladen, myself, the Minister, and the CEO, we discussed the matter, and the Minister suggested that it would be good to get a special prosecutor to prosecute the matter, and we agreed, and I suggested that we should get Dickie Bradley to prosecute the matter for us, but it turns out that Dickie Bradley is defending the accused persons. So we are still trying to find who will be able to prosecute the matter for us. We believe that since Dickie Bradley always seems to be concerned about the plane landing, he would be willing to assist in prosecuting the matter as a special prosecutor, but we don’t have that option anymore,” Williams said.

Williams also suggested that there might be some conflict of interest on Bradley’s part, since the four officers charged for the Bladen landing whom he is representing have played key roles in charging persons who are also his clients for various other crimes, and are key witnesses in those proceedings.

The Police Department may also need to find a special prosecutor if charges are brought against another officer who was detained in connection with the most recent drug plane landing in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. That officer, incidentally, is also connected to the Director of Public Prosecution’s office in Belize City. According to COMPOL Williams, it is becoming increasingly frustrating to have to work with officers who continue to have links with the criminal elements the department is seeking to fight against.

“What I can assure you is that once they manifest themselves, we are going to cut their necks,” COMPOL Williams said.

Over recent months, over 40 officers were dismissed by the Police Department. COMPOL Williams said that swift internal charges will be brought against them and they will be prosecuted to rid the department of any officer found even marginally involved in any narco activity. The officers who are suspected of being part of the criminal ring within the department are being monitored closely, says the COMPOL.

At this time, he has sanctioned the investigation of one of his close allies within the department, ACP Marco Vidal. Four members of Vidal’s Command Operations Strike Team were detained during the Bladen bust and charged with related offenses, and on Sunday, another officer who was a subordinate of Vidal when he headed the GSU, and who, ironically, was also linked to the office of the DPP (Vidal’s wife) was nabbed.

“We are conducting an internal investigation in respect to Mr. Vidal. That internal investigation should be completed today, and the findings will be submitted to the CEO for the CEO to make representation to the Services Commission for Mr. Vidal’s suspension pending the possible hearing of disciplinary matter against him,” said Commissioner Williams.

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