Belize Defence Force Probes Disappearance of High-Powered Rifle from Command Post
In another embarrassing situation, the Belize Defence Force has launched an investigation into the disappearance of another high-powered rifle. Over the weekend, an M4 Commando Rifle went missing while in the possession of a Lance Corporal stationed at the Command Post in Xunantunich, Cayo District. It’s the second incident in months involving the removal of a gun from one of the military’s bases. However, according to the BDF’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, this time, the BDF knows who had the gun last. He explained how the firearm vanished when a soldier went to visit a friend early Sunday morning.
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “Preliminary reports indicate that a non commissioned officer which we call a Lance Corporal, left his place of duty in the wee hours of the moring, went to a supposed friend probably what he went and did there we are not sure but that is where he said that he was unable to recall where he left his weapon. But bear in mind that that area is a confined area therefore you should have asked permission before leaving. It is noted that these guys are confined and I said that they are supposed to ask for proper relief in the event that they want to go somewhere else. An investigation is launched and we are now trying to find out what transpired and how we can locate this weapon.”
Reporter: This is the second weapon that has gone missing. I mean it’s something serious so what kind of guardrails are being set in place ? Because I know while you said this soldier wasn’t – didn’t have permission to leave it’s obvious that he didn’t pay any mind to that. So what kind of guardrails are being set in place to ensure that these very dangerous weapons remain on the base or remain in the proper hands ?
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “Right. Indeed it’s a very serious situation and we must not take security lightly. Based on what was brought out in the last investigation there were additional security measures that have been taken and it’s just a matter now to enforce but we must understand that at all levels we must supervise our men that are in the field or the camp.”
Reporter: So what then do you make of this incident ? Was it just bad judgment or was it that this soldier may have been participating in some kind of questionable action.
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “Well what happened is that I was made to understand, as I said the preliminary reports said that he just left his place of duty, went to a friend in the nearby vicinity and that is where all this information unfolded.”
Reporter: So it’s being chalked up to carelessness at this point ?
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “I would like to say that.”
Reporter: Any idea where the gun is ? You don’t know if it’s heading over the border or anything like that ? Is that the suspicion at this time ?
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “Well yesterday an initial search was made in the vicinity however it was to no avail so I would want to believe that there’s a possibility that it went across or it might still be in country however we are working closely with the police department who is assisting us at this point in time.”
Reporter: Was the gun loaded when it went missing and if so how many rounds of ammunition did it have ?
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “Okay so the preliminary reports as I mentioned yes the person had his weapon and he has a magazine and fitted but I’m not sure at the moment how many ammunition was in the magazine.”
As it relates to the other rifle that went missing in August, Leal says the force was able to secure a confession from Wayne Perry, the soldier they believe was responsible for its removal from the base. He says that even though Perry was criminally charged, the Belize City man remains a member of the BDF.
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “I applaud the team that conducted the investigation and it led to a confession and we were also able to find this weapon but this is in collaboration with the police department and the BDF.”
Reporter: What kind of repercussions will Mr.Perry face in that instance then ?
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “Well okay so the duty of the Court of Inquiry on the investigation is to find out what happened and then thereafter they make recommendations to Commander of BDF. Commander of BDF now has the onus to say what level of disciplinary measures will be taken.”
Reporter: Will he be dismissed ?
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “As I said it is on the onus of the Commander of BDF. However I would like to say that there was a Rugby game during that weekend and there’s a probability that he went there to show support at the Rugby game or was just around the field.”
Reporter: So it wasn’t determined if Perry actually took that gun to Belize City or if it was just carelessness something similar in this case.
Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Leal, Chief of Staff for the BDF: “Right well the investigation had a confession but I cannot divulge on that information until when CBDF makes his judgment.”
The BDF is asking the public for assistance in this recent incident and is pleading for any information that might lead to the gun’s location.