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Mexicans busted with cash and other offences

A joint team of CIB, SB, QRT and Customs Personnel conducted an operation on Saturday on Ambergris Caye which led to the apprehension of (MEXICAN ARRESTS VO) two Mexican nationals, 40 year old Manuel Villanueva and fifty year old Gonzalo Albelardo Herrera Castilla. Castilla, a Mexican Businessman from Chetumal, Quintana Roo was fined $1500 Belize dollars by Customs personnel for unaccustomed goods. He was also arrested and charged by the Financial Intelligence Unit for laundering $29,000. Current laws only allow a person to enter or exit Belize with ten thousand dollars without a permit.  Castilla was also detained pending charges from the Immigration Department. At the time of his arrest, he was with 40 year old Manuel Villanueva, another resident of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Villanueva was fined $500 by customs department for falsifying a declaration. But on Monday the Magistrate at the San Pedro Town Magistrate Court struck out the Information and Complaint in the criminal matter regarding the funds which was $14,280 in US currency, $1,078 in Belize currency and 86 Guatemalan Quetzales. In total the funds were valued at $29,000 dollars were ordered to be returned to Herrera Castilla. Since the FIU had reasonable grounds for suspecting the cash was property derived from the commission of an offence regarding Money Laundering, the FIU had defied the court and cited the Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) Act and confiscated the cash in the various denomination for further investigation. Apparently on Saturday, when they docked at the area for customs and immigration the two Mexican nationals attempted to register a vessel in a Belizean’s name. That was unusual and the customs officials called the police which then found the cash and uncustomed goods.