The Benque Free Zone sits quietly between Belize and Guatemala but on Saturday instead of a contraband bust, the police found an uzi submachine gun. The police told the media today that on Saturday after two in the afternoon in a beige vehicle with Guatemalan license plates was exiting the Benque Free Zone when officers decided to check it.
ASP Alejandro Cowo: ‘Upon conducting a search on the inside of the vehicle it led to the discovery of an UZI machine gun loaded with two magazines containing 25 live rounds of ammunition on each magazine. The persons inside of the vehicle at the time were known to be Juan Garcia Palma, a 31 year old Guatemalan National and Armando Pop also a Guatemalan National. Mr. Pop was the driver of the vehicle; as a result both male persons and the vehicle were escorted to the Benque Viejo Police Station where a further search was conducted but only that UZI was found inside of the vehicle. Subsequently on that Mr. Pop and Mr. Palma were arrested and charged for kept of having a firearm and kept of unlicensed ammunition. I know that in order for you to have a weapon in the country you must have a license authorized by the Commission and this goes to any national or foreigner person visiting or living in the country.”
The Guatemalan nationals identified themselves as police officers in Guatemala. They were charged and remanded and the incident has been forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since it concerns relation between Belize and Guatemala.