BELIZE CITY, Fri. Apr. 17, 2020– About 132 gang members were released at about 6:00 yesterday evening from the Belize Central Prison, where they were held in remand for one month from March 17, as part of a State of Emergency initiative that was launched by Government in March, to stop the brutal and escalating gun violence that appears to have become the norm in Belize City.
In events leading up to the time these gang members were remanded, between March 13 and March 17, seven persons were killed, including two 5-year-old children who were in their respective homes sleeping with their mothers.
The city was divided into zones and known gang members were rounded up and sent to the prison for safe-keeping for an initial stay of 1 month, which ended today.
Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said that prior to their release, the group signed an agreement with the Conscious Youth Development Program (CYDP) to keep the peace and to hand over their firearms. He said that the group kept their word and police were led to recover 22 firearms, including the dreaded AK-47 assault rifle, and the detainees promised to hand over seven more guns.
Compol Williams said he reminded the men that they will be monitored, and if they break any laws or behave in a disruptive manner they will be returned to jail.
Williams said that while in jail the group engaged in mediation sessions with advocate Nuri Muhammad and Marinette Westby, along with officials from the prison.
After the sessions the men agreed to sign the contract to keep the peace and hand over their firearms.
Compol Williams said that because of the detainees’ show of good faith, he had no problem in releasing them.
Williams said that he is a realist and did not expect the gang members to give up all their firearms, but their efforts to hand over some of their guns demonstrate good faith.
During the time the gang members were in jail, there was very little crime in the city.
Feature photo: Compol Chester Williams