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Belizean officials confronted by Mexican smugglers

A video which surfaced on Facebook shows a very heated confrontation between Belizean customs officers and smugglers believed to be Mexicans. The video shows smugglers armed with machetes fighting for bails of products that they had stock piled on the international bridge that links Belize and Mexico. This problem of smugglers illegally transporting goods using the bridge has been noticed by Mexican officials. Since last week, Mexican customs officials were requesting to meet with their counterparts in Belize. That meeting happened this past Monday in Belize City where the issue was addressed. Love News spoke with the Comptroller of Customs, Collin Griffith.

Colin Griffith – Comptroller of Customs

“We had received information from the Mexican Customs. We had a meeting with them,  I wasn’t in the meeting but one my deputy controllers and office of enforcement had met with officials from Mexico I believe that was on Monday, to which they had expressed concern that goods were being stockpiled on the bridge, on the Belizean side, asking Belize customs if they could address the matter and we assured them that we would address that matter. We communicated with the Free Zone management informing them that goods that were taken out of the free zone were not being directly exported to Mexico and therefore we would be patrolling the corridor to ensure that any goods that are not directly exported to Mexico would be placed under customs supervision. So those goods must either go directly to Mexico or stay at the border station. So Customs Corozal received information that goods again were being stockpiled on the bridge on the Belizean side and based on instructions from head office, they were told to have those goods placed into custom’s custody.”

According to Griffith, the bridge was closed down for a couple of hours.

Colin Griffith – Comptroller of Customs

“And they started to throw the goods over the river, that is the indication that we have and so communicated with Free Zone management who had stopped all exportation to Mexico from the Free Zone and Customs had placed officials at the rear gate of the Free Zone to ensure that no goods would be coming out destined Mexico. At no time did any customs official or police officers that were there, enter Mexican territory, at no time that occurred. Since the meeting we had with Mexican officials, on Monday we had formed our enforcement unit to ensure that they patrolled that corridor to ensure that there was no stock piling of goods on the bridge so that instruction had gone out from Monday. I had been informed from speaking to the enforcement officer out there that police was a part of the operation. If you understand how the Free Zone is constructed there are two gates of the Free Zone, there is one at the back where only Mexicans enter the Free Zone which is very close the old bridge. It’s from there those goods came out. We will never put customs officers stationed on the bridge, we don’t want to do that so we have patrols in intervals based on information and we received information that goods were being stockpiled. “

Griffith said at no time during the exchange did Belizean officials enter Mexican territory.  Officials from the Mexican Embassy in Belize would not comment on the matter since they have yet to receive a full report on what transpired.