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Prison CEO: disciplinary actions to be taken against prison guards

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Nov. 3, 2020– On October 12, 28 of 93 inmates detained at the administrative segregation block at the Belize Central Prison escaped when two guards reportedly were taken hostage and one was relieved of his high-powered rifle.

To date, all but five escapees have been recaptured. Of the five prisoners who are still on the run, two are convicted murderers — Michael Faux and Jaroud Lamb. The three other prisoners at large are Enrique Martinez, Erwin Lanza, and Carlos Montejo, who is one of the masterminds of the breakout.

Specialized units of the Belize Police Department are in search of the escapees, but in the meantime, parallel investigations into the incident are ongoing by the police and the administration of the Belize Central Prison.

In his weekly briefing with the media in Belmopan on October 19, 2020, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, speaking of a report from the Deputy Head of the Crime Investigation Branch, Senior Superintendent Hilberto Romero, had said there was no confirmation of collusion between the inmates and any of the guards at the prison.

During that interview with the media corps, Romero had indicated that 8 prison guards were interviewed during an investigation into the circumstances which led to the prison breakout.

Police investigation aside, Prison CEO Virgilio Murillo says that their internal investigation continues and, like the police, they have not found any evidence that there was collusion between the guards and inmates; however, he says, that this does not mean that protocols were not breached and that guards will not face disciplinary actions.

In an interview conducted with Murillo today, he said, “With respect to the investigation, from the prison’s perspective, we are continuing with our investigation every day, and  as we go along, we are taking necessary disciplinary action, whether it’s parting ways with a guard, or suspension, or what have you.

“And then I am waiting for the police to continue their investigation to see if there was any collusion or involvement by any of my guys. Other than that, we have not heard from the other inmates who have returned, that there was any involvement by any of the guards.”

Because the escape has been widely publicized by the media, Murillo is very aware that any administrative actions taken against any of the guards may be followed by some public backlash, but he maintains that they must follow their established procedures, regardless of public perception.

“Letting go a guard for neglect of duty and failing to or breaking some prison rule or behaving unethically is nothing new to prison, and to any prison, for that matter. So, this one just happened to come to the fore,” he said.

“I mean, for the first time in the history of the prison, we have a situation where guards are held hostage with their own rifle, and 28 prisoners just walk through the fence.

“But certainly we will deal with it, and if the workers we send home or discipline one way or the other, so choose, or they want to make it public, then they can do that and … um, they are entitled to employment elsewhere,” he went on to say.

“And that is why I’m not too keen on go hanging them out to dry, so to speak. I will hang them out to dry on the basis that they will not be in our midst, because I will certainly get rid of them, because we do not need another embarrassment like this. We do not need another escape like this. Obviously, they weren’t cut out to be here.

“As it relates to the criminal aspect, if the police have any reason to charge them, the police can feel free to go ahead and charge them criminally, and try to prove them guilty,” he said.

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