Two Belizean men were held up and shot over the weekend along the Belize/Guatemala border near the Barrio el Juda area. The men have been identified as 30-year-old, Julio Trujillo and 27-year-old, Noe Ponce. The incident did not occur in Belize’s jurisdiction therefore an investigation is not being pursued by the local police. Belize Police, however, did get an update from their counterparts in Melchor de Mencos, Peten, as explained by the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I did get a brief from the Benque Viejo Police who spoke with the TNC in Melchor and from what they reported to us is that the two Belizean men told them that they were about to cross the border in the adjacency zone when they were approached by some men who were armed and the men fired shots at them, they were injured and they made their way to Melchor to seek medical attention at the hospital there. Those two Belizeans I believe are still hospitalized and we’re hoping that as soon as they have been attended to and their health condition improves then they will be released to us and then we’ll be able to interview them further.”
According to a Guatemalan news outlet, the men were robbed by two persons dressed in camouflage outfits. They were stripped of their belongings and had escaped death after they pleaded for their life. The men were then assisted by fire volunteers who reside in the area. This is not the first incident of concern that has transpired in the Barrio el Juda area. It is an area with a live land dispute where Guatemalans have been constructing homes and planting crops on the private property of a Belizean businessman. The plot thickens, however, as reports are now suggesting that there is human smuggling and arms dealing ring operating through that area. Our newsroom has been looking into the matter and spoke with the Police Commissioner on the reports.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “The truth is that you will find that sometimes the public feel more free speaking to ordinary public than to the police. So if it is that we were to get a reporting on it then we certainly would follow the content of that reporting to see where we can go. The human trafficking thing is indeed a serious matter and no one should take it lightly and so long as we have credible information as to anybody who is involved in human smuggling or human trafficking we are surely going to act because we understand the ramification that it can have on our country particularly when it’s time to do the grading and we are given gradings that we believe we don’t deserve. So we are always going to do our best to try to see how we can improve our status where it comes to preventing human trafficking and human smuggling. The porous border between Belize and Guatemala particularly in that area is of concern to us as well as to the military. We do understand that it is an area that is being used by human smugglers as well as firearms traffickers and so what we are doing with the operations we have in Benque that involves police and members of the BDF is to focus our attention in those areas that we know are prone to persons moving freely across the border and I can tell you that we have had great results over the past month we have had at least three firearms confiscated from persons coming across that area. We have also confiscated a number of contraband goods and we continue to do what we can to minimize these occurrences.”
Both Trujillo and Ponce are admitted in the Melchor Hospital in a stable condition.