The general story by several of the men who were detained in this latest drug plane landing, is that they were hunting and that they knew nothing of the drugs. Investigators, however, are not buying into that narrative. Love News, however, has since obtained several pieces of evidence that would indicate that the men were indeed on a hunting trip on Sunday morning. The text messages exchanged, show that the trip was being planned from early last week and that the hunting trips were a regular part of the group’s routine. One person who says they are not buying the story is the Police Commissioner. Senior Reporter Hipolito Novelo reports.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Let me say I was appalled t have seen that some media house or media houses took it to themselves to post pictures of these detainees with game.”
Police Commissioner Chester Williams is talking about these pictures. The suspected narco-traffickers posing with game meat they hunted and killed.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “How irresponsible to suggest that because these men in the past had been hunters that on that particular night they were hunting game. Common sense if you are accustomed to hunting in a particular area it gives you intimate knowledge of the area and you would be an ideal person to be used by these traffickers because you can assist them to maneuver the jungles. So yes maybe in the past they were hunters but on that particular night they were hunting perhaps one thing, cocaine.”
And the cocaine that Williams says these five men, Police corporal Eric David Young, Miguel Zetina, Edwin Gonzales, Jaime Maas and Edilberto Medrano, were hunting was found days after the drug plane landed in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. 25.5 bales or 514 bricks or 579.94 kilos of cocaine destined to North America. Since the bails of cocaine were found, the men are expected to be charged with importing cocaine.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Which they found and abandoned their catch. There was no game in their vehicles and they way it was put out by the media was to suggest that on that particular night they had game which is not so. They were hunting deer for days you should have asked them where was the game that the caught for the days that they were there, that’s a good question you should have asked them and I’ll leave it there.”
But Lilbet Medrano isn’t leaving it there. She is the sister of Edilberto Medrano and she says her brother and the other men are being frame. Lilbet says that the group of men are known hunters and were in the area hunting for days. She says that text messages between Edilberto and someone who was scheduled to accompany him support the claim that the hunting trip was being planned in advance. However, Commissioner Williams is sticking to his position that the men were allegedly hunting for cocaine- a claim that Lilbet says is..
Lilbet Medrano. Sister of Edilberto Medrano: “Ridiculous. It’s just unbelievable and anybody in Cayo district and the whole of Belize who knows him and knows all those guys in fact not only Eddy Medrano but all of them knows that these guys have nothing to do with drugs. They have absolutely nothing to do with those drugs . Nothing. Not to facilitate and air plane, nothing at all. So I don’t know who is making up these stories I don’t know where it’s coming from but these guys were hunting and I know they were hunting. He’s my brother. They were hunting for nights before that. They were hunting actually in a different area, it’s a friend of his who owns a farm they were hunting in that farm and then they just decided to go to Pine Ridge the last night that they were hunting but yeah they were hunting for a few nights before that and they have been hunting for many years. There are more guys it’s just that night all of them didn’t go but yeah there are more guys, more hunters out there that usually go with them it’s not only five of them it’s a lot of them and they go hunting often. Like that’s their hobby, they do that. My brother has his license for gun because he is a hunter that’s what he does for a hobby. I just hope that all of them get justice as soon as possible and I wish they didn’t send them to the Central Prison just so fast. They didn’t have anything like no kind of evidence. My brother was actually far from that plane, far. They were at the exit and the police officers took them hours and hours driving them back in the jungle and took pictures with all their hunting equipment and put it together with the plane, that’s what happened.”
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Do you have to be present at a location to commit a crime ? And are you going to remain at the crime scene to be caught there ? How many persons have we not convicted for murder who are found days after the murder thousands of miles away from where the murder occurred ? Come on. They don’t have to be found at the location where the crime is committed for you to be convicted.”
But the court hasn’t convicted any of the men, however in the public’s courtroom these men are being condemned.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “In law the two best evidence are direct evidence which is “I see.” and circumstantial evidence. We’re not trying the case here but I’m telling you we have circumstantial evidence that links them to the plan landing and I end there.”
Reporter: Okay so you condemn these men before the court has ruled and is it that you’re saying prosecutors, investigators have irrefutable evidence, undeniable evidence that places these men at the crime scene ?
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “You heard what I said Hipolito? I said circumstantial evidence and you talk about condemn these men before the court how many times have you all not condemned people through the media without a trial ? Man stop it don’t use the word condemn when it’s convenient to you.”
And then there is Mennonite Saulus Penner. The vehicle found inside the forest was found hidden under branches and reportedly belongs to Penner. Lilbet says the group of men has no idea who he is and connection to him. Williams says a connection does exists.
Lilbet Medrano. Sister of Edilberto Medrano: “That Mennonite guy it just happened that he owns a farm near Pine Ridge and he was with his family that night having dinner and they just went into his house, took him out, dragged him out, took away his money and left his wife there with the kids. My brother doesn’t even know him but because Mennonites have been known for drugs and that’s the only Mennonite guy they could put in the picture so I guess they used him it’s all a frame they’re just framing them, all of them. My brother has nothing to do with that Mennonite guy he doesn’t even know him.”
Reporter: No connection at all. No messages, no recent talks?
Lilbet Medrano. Sister of Edilberto Medrano: “Nothing. Nobody knows him. They don’t know where he came from in the picture.”
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “The fact that he is now being accused of facilitating the landing of the plane and let me say contrary to what some might think we do have evidence to support that, that will show that there is some nexus and we won’t be naïve to believe that there aren’t persons out there who are involved in these activities that we don’t know about as yet but as time progresses and they manifest themselves then they’ll be revealed.”
Reporter: So you would put your head on the chopping block for your brother ?
Lilbet Medrano. Sister of Edilberto Medrano: “Any day. Any day. You think I would be freezing my ass in Canada if my brother was a drug dealer ? No. Everybody in my family works, we’re hard working people and the reason why these guys are hunting is because everything is so expensive in Belize. People can’t even afford to eat these days but they go and hunt for meat on their own, they don’t have anything to do with drugs. None of them. None of these guys. Not Edilberto, not none of them. These guys are family people. My brother is not a drug dealer I can put my hands on fire for him. He’s not a drug dealer. None of these guys are drug dealers. None of them.”
Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo.