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PM Briceno Comments on the Recent Drug Plane Landings

Every night the Joint Intelligence Operation Centre (JOIC) monitors suspected drug planes looking to land on Belizean soil. Three drug planes have landed this year and intelligence suggest that more attempts continue to be made. When he was in Opposition, John Briceno who is now the Prime Minister told the media that high government officials were allowing these drug planes to land. The government has changed and so today, we reminded of his comments he made in January 2020.

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I think we need to start off by saying this is nothing new this has been happening for some time but in this instance now here we have a government that has been busting them more often. We are breaking up or catching more than what leaves Belize and that is what is important.”

Reporter: In January 2020 when you were in opposition you told me that the drug planes are landing because high government officials were allowing these drug planes to land, the drug planes continue to land.

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well that – I did not say it’s only because of that. I mean obviously they have already set up a network so what we have to do now is break up that network. We’ve already caught a number of police officers that were in key positions that were allowing some of that to happen and we allegedly got another one with this last plane landing. So it’s a matter now of following as you say following the money to where the drugs ends and go after the people whosoever is involved and certainly now with the police department we have to take a hard look as to what is happening there and see what changes we can make, whatever changes needs to be done we will make it.”

Prime Minister John Briceno says that his government is fighting the drug war in every angle. He says that the Belize Police Department is being looked at. This is the same department that Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says has been infiltrated by the drug cartel. PM Briceno says that Williams might have been a bit dramatic.

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “We are looking very closely at the police department to be able to make some drastic or some radical changes to the police department so that it could meet the needs that we have to be able to protect our country and to defend and to protect our citizens. One of the things that keeps me up at night is the issue of the drug lords coming and taking over Belize because it could happen with the amount of money that they have. Look at what has happened with Mexico that over the years the government allowed them to put a solid hold or grab into certain areas of the country and for the past decade they’ve been fighting with big guns and everything between the drug lords and the Mexican army and we don’t want to get to that point because then we do not have the resource that the Government of Mexico has. So we need to nip it at the bud before they could start to hold root into Belize.”

Reporter: Okay so have you heard the Commissioner concede that the cartels have penetrated the Belize Police Department ? 

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well I don’t know if they have penetrated as per se , maybe he was being a little bit dramatic but yes I do believe that there is great influence in it. It does not necessarily mean – you know sometimes in Belize we use the word cartels loosely that even within Belize we have our local cartels and probably from the looks of it that a lot of it it seems that are Belizeans that have contacts of course with other cartels but at least from what I have been seeing but I’m not expert and I’m sure that the Commissioner has more information than I have – it seems that mostly locals that organizing these things and they’re paid a fee to assist them to move on forward.”