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Guatemalan Found in the Chiquibul with Xate Leaves and Drugs

The Friends for Conservation and Development has detained yet another Guatemalan trespasser in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve.  The arrest occurred at around midnight last night when they found Xate leaves of an address in Peten, Guatemala about seventeen point seven kilometres inside Belize’s territory.  Garcia was detained and searched when the authorities found him at a camp site.  There at the camp site, the officers found a horse as well as almost seven thousand fish tail xate leaves and four hundred and thirty point six grams of suspected marijuana.  According to the FCD, Garcia was accompanied by another Guatemalan national who managed to escape.  Garcia was transported to Tapir Camp and then onto the San Ignacio Police Station where he is expected to be charged for illegal entry into Belize, illegal importation of a domestic animal, collection of a non-timber forest product without a permit and drug trafficking.  Garcia told the authorities that the xate leaves are gathered and sold in bundles of 40 for fifteen quetzales which would translate to about four Belize dollars.  With the almost seven thousand leaves found with Garcia, he would have made around seven hundred and thirty dollars.  Garcia went on to say that there is a buyer who comes to the village from Poptun frequently to purchase the leaves.  The xate fish tail leaf is an export product for Guatemalan encroachers. The leaves usually make their way into the US or Europe, particularly Holland, and are used in high quality floral arrangements or decorations. From a recent study of the leaf extraction, the percentage of extraction compared to 2012 has decreased and Friends for Conservation and Development believes it is due to the increase in law enforcement patrols in the Chiquibul Forest; changes in market price or low demand for the product.  Earlier this week FCD had detained two other Guatemalans found in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve panning gold from the area.