Customs Condemns, Destroys Uncustomed Goods
This past week has not been a good one for cops; in separate busts they have been captured on cell phone video with contraband goods up north. They are not the only violators, at border and check points, loads of items are confiscated routinely as contraband goods. So what happens to these goods? Today, we had a first-hand look at their destruction in an operation mounted by the Customs Department at a remote location in rural Belize District. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
As early as eight-thirty this morning, a forty-foot container loaded with uncustomed goods was transported up the Phillip Goldson Highway and through the Boom/Hattieville Road to a private property for destruction. Inside the container was an assortment of beverages, including beers and sodas as well as wines, rums and liquors; cigarettes and even gaming machines. These imported products were confiscated by officers attached to the Enforcement Unit of the Customs and Excise Department over a period of time from either contrabandistas or importers who could not produce the proper licenses or permits.
Adrian Gibson, Customs & Excise Clerk 1, Enforcement Unit
“What you are seeing behind us is some couple months of goods that have been confiscated. Goods that have come into the country and no import license were issued and goods that were forfeited by the court or goods where the matter has been settled out of court. And those goods are confiscated here with us today. Some of them are goods that when we are going on operations, we confiscate at the different landings, whether it be San Victor or Patchakan area or one of those illegal landings that many of these goods enter the country.”
This process is done every six months depending on the amount of confiscated goods. It is witnessed by several agencies including the Belize Agricultural Health Authority and the Public Health Unit. According to Public Health Inspectors Supervisor, Lisa Tillett, the goods are inspected months before they are destroyed.
Lisa Tillett, Supervisor, Public Health Inspectors
“We go with a request from especially like Customs and we go in and we do the condemnation of the goods. And after we condemn them Customs will keep them in their storage and to follow up, we will definitely have to go and ensure that that the goods that we condemn, does not reach back to the public. So we accompany them to the burning site and ensure that the goods are burnt properly.”
A trench was built on private property where the large volume of goods was dumped; there after a bulldozer was used to crush the items before it was set on fire by the workmen. It is a practice of transparency to ensure that the goods are properly destroyed and in no way reenters the Belizean market.
“Once they are not deadly goods or goods that we don’t want expose to the environment, then we can just crush them—like cans and cartoon boxes and stuff like that. We can just crush them because we know that they won’t pose any threat or any harm to the public out there. And the others we just burn. But we just try to minimize the amount that we have that’s why we crush some of them.”
“Covering it with the sand, is there a particular reason why you do that after it is burned?”
“Yeah, we also cover them because even though we think we burn them properly, some might just get away and just to be on the safe side, we cover them so the birds don’t dig them up and have them exposed for human beings to pass and want to gather them.”
Duane Moody for News Five.