BELIZE CITY, Tues. Oct. 6, 2020– Following two gang-related murders on the weekend of July 3, 2020, a State of Emergency was declared for all of southside Belize City, in order to afford law enforcement officers additional powers to go into those communities and apprehend suspected gang members.
On the morning of July 7, 2020, between 3:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., pre-dawn operations were conducted by law enforcement personnel, who went into the communities to extract suspects wanted for questioning in connection with the murders of Raheem Myles and Raheem Faber.
The operations caused affected Southside residents to rail about the manner in which they were treated when police in paramilitary gear kicked down doors in pursuit of their targets.
The police dragnet initially led to the detention of over a hundred suspected gang members, but only 32 were actually hauled off and incarcerated at the Belize Central Prison. That number would increase to 50 on August 11, 2020.
On Wednesday, August 5, 2020, the Senate approved a motion to extend the State of Emergency on the Southside of Belize City for an additional two months.
That extension expired yesterday, October 5, 2020, and according to Virgilio Murillo, Chief Executive Officer at the Belize Central Prison, the suspected gang members who were locked up for three months were released incrementally since last week, and the remaining 63 detainees were discharged yesterday.
So, is there cause for concern? And what is the level of preparedness of the Police Department to keep the peace?
ACP Joseph Myvett, Officer Commanding the National Crimes Investigation Branch, said, “We have stepped up our presence and we are definitely going to increase our operations. I won’t say that the incidents over the weekend in Belize City may not have been related to some of those persons, but we are going to be specifically targeting those persons who we know were involved in the weekend incidents in Belize City”.