BELIZE CITY, Tues. July 7, 2020– A State of Emergency (SOE), to combat an abrupt increase in crime and violence, has been declared for southside Belize City.
The State of Emergency began at about 3:00 o’clock this morning with an operation that targeted areas where known gang members and/or criminals live or base their activities, and about 300 policemen, supported by soldiers of the Belize Defence Force, participated in the predawn operation.
The SOE was initiated after Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said that gangs were escalating their criminal activities. (Two men were shot and killed as a result of gang rivalry, and there has been an increase in robberies, as well as reports of threats and extortion of businessmen, and vows of retaliation and murders by gangs.)
Commissioner Williams said that the gangs would not be allowed to hold the community hostage, nor will they be allowed to do as they please. He vowed that the Police Department will not allow a small group of lawbreakers to terrorize law-abiding citizens.
After the proclamation was signed yesterday, Belize City’s southside was segmented into zones for easy targeting and arrests of known gang members and criminals living in the area.
At about 3:00 this morning, doors of houses where known gang members live were kicked in, and those gang members were taken away. The operation concluded at about 11:30 a.m. and 100 gang members and criminal offenders were reeled in.
Commissioner Williams said that they will be remanded for a month. Those detainees who are found not to be involved in any crime and who are trying to change their lives will be released; the others will be remanded, during which time they will be investigated and charged, including for being gang members.
Police Minister Michael Peyrefitte said that presently, the police and the Ministry do not need any headaches from gang members who are bent on committing crimes, and a message is being sent, and if they do not behave appropriately, a stiffer message will be sent.