Nine men including three law enforcement officers are in hot water after they were caught red handed with two bales of suspected cocaine. The men’s dilemma began early this morning when police officers received information from Central American counterparts about the possible landing of a narco plane in Belize. The officers dispatched various search teams and discovered that the suspected narco-plane had crash-landed in Lemonal Village, Belize District. Police on the scene were able to capture one of two private boats that were fleeing from the area along with its occupants. Inside the boat that was intercepted, Police found six civilians, two police officers and a Belize Defence Force soldier along with the two bales of cocaine amounting to sixty kilos. The men were detained by police and taken to the Queen Street Police Station. The local lawmen have since been identified as Tyrell Talbert of the Special Patrol Unit (S.P.U.), Police Constable Byron Claire assigned to the K9 Unit, and Lance Corporal Steve Roland. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams spoke to the media who indicated that there were an additional twenty three bales of cocaine found during the operation.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “We also went and conducted search in the area where the plane had landed. We managed to locate the plane but it was destroyed by fire. A search of the area led to the discovery of twenty three bails of suspected cocaine, that too was taken into custody of the police, brought here and again each of those twenty three bails contained thirty parcels or thirty bricks. That has also been weighed and it amounted to seven hundred and thirty two kilos. That for now will be labelled as found property as even though we can see that the packaging of the two bails found with the group of nine is the same as the packaging for the other twenty three the fact that we did not find these individuals in the area where the twenty three was found it will be difficult for us to charge them for that amount of drugs and so for now it will be labelled as found property while we do some investigation to see if we will be able to tie them to the second finds. And so there is where we are right now.”
Each bale contained 3o parcels amounting to over seven hundred and ninety kilos of suspected cocaine. The media met up with Minister of National Defence and Border Security Florencio Marin Jr. who was yet to be fully briefed on the operations. He did say, however, that he commends the officers involved in the drug bust.
Hon. Florencio Marin Jr. Minister of National Defence & Border Security : “The investigation is ongoing so my comments will be very limited but I just want to congratulate the teams who were able to successfully interdict the drugs that came in but I do have to be limited in comments because it’s ongoing right now as we speak but I want to assure you we will fully cooperate with all investigations necessary and let the chips fall where they may.”
The soldier captured in this morning’s drug operation is the driver of the BDF’s Brigadier General Steven Ortega; or at least he was up until his arrest. The General spoke on the incident and the distress it brings to the force.
Steven Ortega, Brigadier General: “It is very distressing. I mean it is not only distressing for me but for the entire force because we’re a professional organization and we don’t expect, our troops are not trained to be on the other side of the law we’re trained to uphold the law and so it is a very very distressing time.”
Reporter: Are you able to confirm whether or not your driver was detained as part of that operation?
Steven Ortega, Brigadier General: “Yes he was.”
Reporter: He still works for you ?
Steven Ortega, Brigadier General: “Well he was my driver. Was because I can’t have a driver being detained by the police for such actions.”
The men are expected to be charged for the two bales of cocaine that were found in the vessel they had occupied in the Crooked Tree Lagoon. Police believes that the escapees in the other vessel are believed to have been Mexican nationals. It is interesting to see how this case will unfold as the last time, back in September 2018, two officers were also busted in a drug operation but were set free in February 2020 after the matter crumbled in the Orange Walk court with a no-case submission. In that incident the two officers charged were David Chi and Norman Anthony. They were charged with carrying out an illicit plane landing in Tres Leguas, near Blue Creek.