BELIZE DISTRICT, Fri. Jan. 29, 2021– On Friday morning at around 3:30 a.m., the Belize Police Department, with the help of the Joint Intelligence Operation Center (JIOC) and a Mexican air asset, intercepted a narco plane that departed from South America a little before 10:00 p.m. on Thursday night. Nine men, including two police officers and one BDF soldier, were detained while they were attempting to flee the scene in a boat which contained two bales of suspected cocaine. During further searches that were conducted near the area in which the plane was found, an additional 23 bales of cocaine were found, and reports are that three additional bales were found over this weekend in the Crooken Tree Lagoon.
The drug plane, which was headed toward Belize, was spotted near the Hill Bank area, in the Orange Walk District, by police who were deployed to that known landing site in northern Belize District, near the villages of Lemonal and Crooked Tree. The twin-engine aircraft circled three times before landing in the general vicinity.
According to Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, about 20 minutes later, police in the area saw a large fire in the area where the aircraft landed and some minutes later, they saw a boat in the Hill Bank lagoon heading west at high speed. They were not able to catch this vessel, but shortly after saw a next boat coming from the same direction, which they captured.
“Inside that boat were nine men, and a search thereof yielded two bales of what we believe to be cocaine. The individuals and the boat were taken to the dock, where we learnt the names of the persons to be one Tyrell Talbert, who is assigned to the Special Patrol Unit, that’s SPU; one Byron Clare, police constable assigned to K-9 unit, and I think one Steve Rowland, I think that’s the name, who is a lance corporal in the Belize Defence Force. We also had in that vessel Dwight McFadzean; we have another man, Clare, who is the father of PC Clare, and some other individuals,” Commissioner of Police Chester Williams revealed.
These men, one of whom is the driver for the BDF Commander, Brigadier General Steven Ortega, were found with two bales of suspected cocaine in the boat. An additional 23 parcels were found on the landing site.
“We took possession of the content of vessel and the individuals — they were brought here to the Queen Street Police Station, where the two bales of suspected cocaine was weighed,” Commissioner Williams shared. Each bale contained about 30 parcels of cocaine, and together the confiscated cocaine weighed 70 kilos. The men were charged with drug trafficking for the two bales found with them. According to Commissioner Williams, the additional 23 bales were marked as found property.
“We also went and we conducted a search in the area where the plane had landed. We managed to locate the plane, but it was destroyed by fire. A search of the area led to the discovery of 23 bales of suspected cocaine; that too was taken into the custody of police and brought here, and again each of those 23 bales contained 30 parcels or 30 bricks. That has also been weighed, and it amounted to 732 Kilos, which for now will be labeled as found property, even though we can see that the packaging of the two bales found with the group of 9 is the same as the packaging for the other 23. The fact that we did not find these individuals in the area where the 23 was found, it will be difficult for us to charge them for that amount of drugs, so for now it will be labeled as found property,” said Commissioner Williams.
These nine men were arraigned on Monday morning at the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court. The two police officers will be placed on interdiction, according to the Commissioner of Police. Also, at the time of the arrest the men were armed with two shotguns and two 9 mm pistols, and the licenses of the holders of those weapons will be revoked.
In total, about 2000 pounds of cocaine was found in 28 bales, each containing 30 parcels of cocaine — a total of 840 bricks, with an estimated street value of almost 17.6 million dollars, were recovered by police.