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Jun 19, 2017

Customs, Mexico still struggle with patrolling border

We have been regularly reporting on issues along the Mexico-Belize border with respect to contraband and other smuggling, illegal entry and exit and other issues. The Customs and Excise Department has been at the forefront of curbing and reducing such problems, but it is always a tough job. Recently there have been flare-ups between smugglers using the old border crossing and Mexican authorities, but nothing affecting the Belize side at this point. We have an update from Comptroller of Customs Colin Griffith.

 

Colin Griffith, Comptroller of Customs

Colin Griffith

“The Immigration Department did put out a release that it is not an official port. Customs have had an outpost at La Union officially since 1991 and the main reason was to control the movement through there and what had encouraged that decision to place that outpost there was because the Mexicans do have an immigration outpost on their side. So that was the reason for the decision in 1991.But it is not in any way to encourage people to…it was place there similarly to facilitate the movement of laborers and people from the neighboring villages and it did balloon and decision had to be made to stop that , major movement of people to La Union.”

 

Report

“I have seen that sometimes when you bring over goods today, you pay a small fee and they get a receipt for that. Is that part of the operations there?”

 

Colin Griffith

“Yes that is still ongoing between Belize Customs and Police, we hold on the Belize side of the bridge we would have check points on certain days. This is also in collaboration with the Corozal Free zone. We continue to monitor that area and we can say that the exportation of commercial shipment through the old bridge has seized. They are now being directed at the new bridge as has been requested by our Mexican counterparts. But that exercise is ongoing.”

 

Report

“As it relates to the smugglers themselves, I think there was another aspect in okay that did not come out in the media, but is it only a concern of these smugglers? Or other entities? Is it only a concern in relation to the smugglers who we understood that were trying to hoard the bails of goods from the free zone as opposed to other entities of convey rather criminal rings of concern that are at play there. If you are able to disclose or not?

 

Colin Griffith

“Well I can’t really speak to what happens on the Mexican side I know for a fact that the Mexicans have expressed that they cannot charge the requisite duties on the old bridge, therefore they request from Belize customs if we can assist to have the goods being exported through the new bridge where they would be able to charge the duties. That is in compliance with the Mexican customs laws. The Mexican customs cannot function at the old bridge because of the jurisdictional matters.”

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