Headline — 15 September 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Drug plane lands

Senior Supt. David Chi, Corporal Norman Anthony and 3 others remanded on charges related to 556 kilos of cocaine, estimated at US$7 million

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 13, 2018– This morning, five men, including two police officers, were taken to the court of Senior Magistrate Aretha Ford in connection with the seizure by police of a small plane loaded with cocaine reportedly worth US$7 million that landed on a road in the Blue Creek area of the Orange Walk District early Sunday morning.

After Senior Magistrate Ford entered the courtroom, the five accused men stood up, and the proceedings began with the court Spanish interpreter in place for two of the accused, who are Mexican nationals.

The court prosecutor indicated to Magistrate Ford that he was instructed to inform the court that the matters would be tried on indictment; therefore, no plea was taken from the accused men.

First on the police charge sheet was Eli Figueroa Nunez, 33, a Mexican businessman and resident of Campeche, Mexico. He was followed by David Chi, 53, Belizean Senior Superintendent of Police and resident of Orange Walk; Norman Anthony, 52, police corporal and resident of Lemonal Village; Peter Friesen, Jr., 32, a carpenter and resident of Blue Creek, Orange Walk District; and Azariaz Silvero Manzano, 20, a ranch worker of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Attorney Leroy Banner is representing Norman Anthony, while Richard “Dickie” Bradley is representing Chi and Friesen; and Leslie Hamilton is representing Nunez and Manzano.

Police charged Nunez, Manzano, Chi, Anthony, Friesen, “and others” with abetment of the importation of a controlled drug. The charge sheet stated: “…On 9th September at Northern Community, in the Orange Walk Judicial District, [you] purposely facilitated the commission of the crime of importation of a controlled drug, to wit, 556.2 kilograms of cocaine, [and] 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 charged Chi, Anthony, Friesen, “and others” with conspiracy to land a plane at an unlicensed aerodrome.

Nunez and Manzano were charged with drug trafficking for 566.2 kilos of cocaine that police found in their possession, for the purpose of distributing to others for the purpose of drug trafficking.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 9, a blue and white single-engine Cessna airplane touched down on a road in the Blue Creek area of the Orange Walk District. At a Ministry of National Security press conference on Tuesday morning, Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie, told the country that the BDF and police were in a 30-to 45-minute firefight with the drug traffickers. Surprisingly, there were no gunshot injuries reported, and police said that the pilot of the aircraft managed to get away, presumably in a vehicle that left the scene after the gunfire had subsided.

Police did not say whether they had seized any weapons after the lengthy firefight with the drug traffickers.

The question of bail did not come up at the arraignment, and all of the accused men were remanded to the Belize Central Prison until their next court date, which is set for November 1, at the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court.

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Deshawn Swasey

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