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Oct 25, 2016

M.I.T. Accused of Extortion of Businessman; Investigation Begins

Elodio Aragon Jr.

On Monday, a Belmopan-area businessman told local media that he was extorted, allegedly by members of the Police Mobile Interdiction Team, who stopped him around Mile twenty-five on the George Price Highway. The businessman was returning from Chetumal with his wife and a search of his vehicle found one undeclared box of perfumes for a negligible amount – all his other purchases were previously declared at Customs at the border. But he claims the officers, who detained him for several hours at the Police Training Academy in Belmopan, pressured him and his wife to hand them sixteen thousand Mexican pesos, equivalent to two thousand Belize dollars, to let him go. They had suggested that he might face additional charges but the money appeared to satisfy them. The matter has come to the attention of the senior rank of the Belize Police Department and Minister of State Elodio Aragon Junior, who has asked. He also commented on making the role of the Professional Standards Branch in sniffing out alleged corrupt activities of police officers pro-active, more so than reactive.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of State, Home Affairs

“I am telling you right now, I am sure that the Police Department is looking at it; I spoke to Mister Blackett this morning, because I saw it on the television last night, on the news, and I related it to him, and he will be looking into it. My point is this – and this is some of the new things we want to bring in, want to enforce and want to set mechanisms for it to work. We have a Professional Standards Board right now in existence. To a large extent, that Professional Standards Board is a reactive part of the Department; it only reacts when there are allegations, etcetera. I want to make it proactive at the same time, so that our officers on the ground know that we will have people who will verify their trust of confidence that they should have as a police officer. There is no room for corruption in the Police Department; none at all. And that is a zero tolerance for me, because in no way we can lose the trust and confidence of our public, and the easiest way to do that is to be corrupt. And definitely that is a no, no way for me, and I want to see the Police Department that has the confidence of its people. And to do that, we must look and focus on keeping that trust and confidence, and the only way to do that, is to stamp out and weed out the corruption at the Police Department.”

 

A spokesman for the unit, reached for comment, called the allegation false. The businessman has plans to report the matter to Professional Standards Branch and the Customs and Excise Department, as well as to consult an attorney.

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