Human Smuggling Ring includes Jamaican Victims
Irregular migration continues to be a challenge for Belizean authorities. Persons from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and, other countries in the region continue to travel to Belize as a transit point to get to the USA. Recently, we’ve seen Haitians and Chinese coming to Belize through official points of entry but disappearing after. And as this challenge evolves, a group of nine Jamaicans reportedly attempted “abscond” from a cruise ship, which had docked off the coast of Belize City. Seven of them were later detained and investigators believe that they are part of a larger human smuggling ring. Police Commissioner Chester Williams provided an update.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “It may come across as a new phenomena and it is something that we will have to find a way to address. You would know that when we these cruise ships that come to the country it is always expected that the passengers are going to return on the ship but as is well known that Jamaicans are CARICOM citizens and the fact that they’re CARICOM citizens they may have some legal right by virtue of the Treaty of Chaguaramas to be able to enter any CARICOM country but again the laws of the country still apply in the sense that when you go to a country you must disclose certain information to immigration for example where you’re going to stay and to be sure that there is some means that you can sustain yourself. So when you have people who just come into the country and have not or did not disclose to immigration where they’re going to stay while in Belize that could be grounds for refusal of entry. So we have to look at it and see and again the question that has been asked is why would Jamaicans come to Belize and then try to go to the US ? Again we have a land border with Mexico and then Mexico has a land border with the US and so they might see it as being easier to go this route as opposed to getting a vessel from Jamaica and then go to the states that is going to be extremely difficult doing it through the maritime domain. So to fly from Jamaica to Belize and then make their way north I believe that’s a much easier route for them. Certainly there may be a need for us to look at it more closely in conjunction with the Immigration Department and then we see how we go from there. I’m not sure what the procedures are on the cruise ship if when they come in if they would be stamped in by immigration because that is a requirement, I don’t know if immigration goes on the ship and stamp in passengers or if when the passengers come off the ship and come mainland if they’re stamped by immigration. Those are things that we will have to look at I’m not sure that is being done but there are several factors that we can look at to see what can be done to avert these things from occurring.”