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Is it a case of human trafficking or human smuggling?

Police are investigating an alleged human trafficking operation. Reports are that Ladyville Police intercepted two vehicles,  a taxi from Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Cayo District and the other a transport vehicle. The occupants of the vehicles were four Honduran immigrants: two adults and two minors and four Belizeans – one of them an employee of the Human Services Department believed to be the mastermind of the operation.  Representing Sergio Guerra and Edwin Naj is Attorney Hurl Hamilton who explained the charges being brought against his clients.

Attorney Hurl Hamilton :“Each of them has been charged with one count of facilitating the commission of an offense. The Police are alleging that near Crooked Tree they had with them some Honduran Nationals. I would want to think they are illegal, that is what the Police are alleging.  The arraign took place before the court around five, they pled not guilty both of them and the Magistrate offered each one of them bail for in the sum of $3000 plus one surety in the same amount. The prosecution did not object to bail.”

Chief Executive Office in the Ministry of Human Development, Judith Alpuche spoke to the media and spoke on how the matter is being resolved.

Judith Alpuche – CEO of the Ministry of Human Development: “The case looks like human smuggling and not a human trafficking case. From our perspective, if the facts wear out that’s just a technical difference because it would be a gross and an egregious violation of his ethics. As social workers we are charged with the responsibility of protecting the vulnerable, not participating in their exploitation and so we are gathering information, working along with the Immigration Department and we are looking at what actions can be taken from a disciplinary perspective. I know also Immigration is looking at it from a criminal perspective and we will support, this is absolutely intolerable. As I said we are gathering information because we want to ensure that with a case like this we have be very precise because there is no room for error and we have to look as I said beyond this case to see if indeed it was a pattern of behavior so we definitely are very concerned. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe it. One of my senior managers said it feels like someone died and that is how it feels, it is an egregious breach of trust, of ethics, of morals and we will have to deal with it head-on.”

Allegations being made against the Social Worker, Sergio Adrian Guerra and Edwin Arnold Naj are that on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, they facilitated the commission of an offense when they aided two minors, 38-year-old, Cornelio Osorto Espinal, 42-year-old, Jonis Elias Ordonez by transporting them into Belize using a Ford Escape.  In court, both men pleaded not guilty to the charge.