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May 30, 2003

U.S. Coast Guard, Bz. police seize 1.5 tons of coke

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The Belize Police Anti-Drug Unit earned a share in a major drug seizure when a U.S. Coast Guard operation netted over one thousand, five hundred pounds of cocaine. According to Police Press Officer G. Michael Reid, just after one p.m. yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard informed the Belize Police Department of the movements of a suspicious boat near Northern Two Cayes on Lighthouse Reef. An anti-drug unit that happened to be on patrol in the area immediately responded and within minutes, picked up two bales of what has now been confirmed as cocaine. But that was peanuts compared to the twenty-six bales already swept up by the Americans. But neither team found the boat and its crew members who were forced to dump their precious cargo in order to elude the authorities.

G. Michael Reid, Police Press Officer

“We still have personnel at this point out there trying to locate any more that might be there and combing the area. We weighed the drugs, it was confirmed to be cocaine, and weighed at a total of fifty-three kilograms and something like seven grams.”

Janelle Chanona

“This interception by the U.S. Coast Guard, they were on patrolled in Belizean waters, they were following this boat from another location? How did they find out about this boat?”

G. Michael Reid

“At this point it is unclear. We know they do constant monitoring of the international waters, so we would believe this is the case. And that in fact they were following the boat for a while and observed the movements that seemed suspicious to them. They did alert the Belize Police Department who responded.”

Janelle Chanona

“The people themselves that were on the boat weren’t detained, do we have a description at all of the boat, where these people might be coming from, anything like that?”

G. Michael Reid

“We’ve left all that up to the Coast Guard because they certainly went into international waters as far as we understand. So we certainly don’t have any descriptions, we are looking around the area. We are certainly going to question anybody that’s in that area, so we would advise anyone that’s thinking about heading out that side to not do so.”

Janelle Chanona

“Do you think this bust highlights the need for us to patrol our waters more stringently in order to pick up on these instances?”

G. Michael Reid

“We’ve been aware of this for a while and this is happening, and certainly the U.S. Coast Guard is also patrolling the international waters. But we are doing everything we can within the scope of our resources of course and we are constantly improving on those resources. So I think that, yes, we are doing everything we can, but we do understand the importance of patrolling.”

According to Reid, in Belize a kilo of cocaine is sold for approximately twelve thousand dollars. That would put the local value of Thursday’s bust at something between eight and nine million dollars. With that kind of money floating around, one would expect that this weekend Lighthouse Reef will be a popular fishing spot.

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