BELIZE CITY, Tues. June 23, 2020– Since government established the COVID-19 quarantine centers across the country to hold persons who enter the country either legally or illegally, there have been a string of escapes from at least three of these centers, beginning first in the Corozal and Stann Creek Districts. The latest escape occurred over the past weekend in the Cayo District.
The Victor Galvez Stadium is being used as a quarantine center in the Cayo District. On Saturday night, June 6, Guatemalans managed to escape from quarantine and are believed to have high-tailed it back across the border to their country.
The escapes from quarantine centers have been occurring too frequently and have prompted Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, to launch a probe with the hope of bringing criminal charges against those responsible for the escapes.
According to the Compol, when the stadium was checked by police following the escape, it was discovered that the padlock on the door was intact, leading police to suspect that the Guatemalans did not break out of the center, but were allowed to leave, using the lock and key.
Presently, soldiers from the Belize Defense Force are responsible for maintaining security at the quarantine centers.
Commissioner Williams, speaking to reporters from his Belmopan office, confirmed that he has asked Assistant Commissioner of Police, Joseph Myvett, to put together a team to investigate the escape of the Guatemalans.
According to Williams, “where these persons escaped, there were padlocks on a shutter and obviously, there was no breakage. The padlocks were not damaged. From what it appears at this time, keys were used to open those padlocks to facilitate the escape.”
The BDF is also doing their own investigation of the matter, Williams informed the media.
The BDF is “ …looking at their internal mechanism to see if there was negligence on the part of those officers who were working at that particular moment,” said Williams, who assured that the BDF will also bring internal charges against the officers involved.
“From what I have been briefed, there is only one person who had keys to the locks that were on the shutters, and so, our investigation will have to be centered around that person, who will have to explain how is it that these individuals were able to escape without having to break any locks to get out of the facility,” Commissioner Williams added.
The Commissioner stressed that countless hours are spent patrolling the borders, “trying to intercept those who put at risk the lives of all our Belizeans, and they are caught and placed into these quarantine facilities, only to see that they escape. It is not what we intended, and I can tell you that our minister, as well, is pretty much concerned.”