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(CMC) – Police say they are unable to link any of the 12 Guatemalan nationals and a local businessman to a multi-million dollar drug bust over the last weekend.
The police said that the operation which involved members of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and the Coast Guard had resulted in the seizure of a boat, a single engine aircraft and two sport utility vehicles.
They said the 13 people were detained based on police intelligence and that the operation yielded more than a thousand pounds of cocaine, firearms and ammunition.
The police said that only seven Guatemalans are being charged, but no one is facing drug charges. The seven have since appeared in court to face firearm and immigration charges, while the others, including the Belizean national have been released.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said law enforcement authorities were unable to gather evidential support to lay charges against any of the individuals, for the drugs.
“We have not been able to tie any of the detainees to the drug discovery. Yes, some were charged with keeping unlicensed firearm and ammunition and that was shared with you all over the weekend,” he said.
He said some of the foreigners were charged with immigration offenses and that it was impossible to take people to court based on “intuition.
“We are a country of laws and the rule of law is paramount and so if the evidence is not there for us to link anybody to whatever crime we believe they may have committed, then the legal and the appropriate thing for us to do is to release them from custody.
“We cannot be seen to be concocting or fabricating evidence against people just for that moment of instant gratification. We want to be sure that when we move to arrest someone that we have the relevant evidence to be successfully prosecute whoever that person may be. And so at this time, I don’t see any failure or any incompetence on the part of the police,” he added.
Meanwhile, Williams has hinted at the possibility of a state of emergency to deal with the increasing number of criminal activities across the south and north sides of Belize.
Several businesses have been robbed and Williams said he police are aware of some of those gang members involved in the brazen day light robberies.
“The robberies are very much annoying, to say the least and I will tell you that we are monitoring the activities of the different gang groups and I will tell you, we are monitoring them very closely.
“And if we see that they continue this kind of actions as well as targeting each other so much so that it puts the lives of law abiding citizens in some degree of threat, then we might move to invoke a state of emergency again and have them away for the September and Christmas season.
“So I want to say to them today that we are monitoring them very closely and if they continue with the way they are going, then we will do what we need to do to ensure that the masses do not suffer at the hands of the minority,” Williams said.