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Apr 9, 2018

U.S. Raps Belize’s Drug-Fighting Efforts Again

The United States Government has dealt another blow to Belize on the heels of a previous decision to rank Belize on tier three of the Human Trafficking Report, which also brought a one-year-suspension for temporary work visas for Belizeans. Earlier today, it listed Belize along with all of its Central American neighbors and Mexico and several others, including Jamaica and Venezuela, on the list of major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries for fiscal year 2018.  This is based on the combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced, regardless of enforcement efforts. Belize’s section of the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, produced by the U.S. State Department, reads similarly to the reports of the last three years. Its primary finding is that, “Belize’s drug control efforts are hampered by the same challenges faced by the rest of the country’s security sector – corruption, insufficient investigative capacity, an ineffective judicial sector, and a lack of political will.” It cites the lack of equipment for the Coast Guard, Police and Belize Defence Force to challenge the traffickers. The U.S. has regularly given funds and equipment to Belize’s authorities to fight drug trafficking and transshipment but it seems not to have made a dent. Since the start of 2018, four planes suspected to be transporting drugs went down in the north of the country. Bolivia and Venezuela in particular are listed as having demonstrably failed to improve drug interdiction efforts, and Colombia narrowly missed making that list as well.

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