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Mar 27, 2008

U.S. Gov’t. donates heavy duty trucks to Coastguard/B.D.F.

Story PictureDuring a brief handing over ceremony today, two of Belize’s security agencies received vehicles to help in their operations courtesy Uncle Sam. The gift of five heavy trucks from United States Government is valued at a half million Belize dollars and has been shared between the Belize Defence Force and the National Coast Guard Service. It is hoped the vehicles will enhance security and combat illegal drug activity.

Colonel Dario Tapia, Acting Commander, B.D.F.
“These vehicles are a welcomed addition to the aging vehicle fleet. And will greatly assist us to mobilise in a timely fashion to carry out our interdiction tasks against the illicit drug trafficking. These trucks will be utilised to mobilise members of the force including our special boat unit particularly for counter drugs operations.”

John Borland, Lt. Commander, National Coast Guard Service
“If you notice the drug trend tendency five or seven years ago, we confiscated anywhere between fifteen and seventeen vessels per year with two or three drug seizers. Over the last two years that hasn’t happened and we contribute that to the significance of our deterrence as a Coast Guard operating in the territorial waters and beyond.”

Marion Ali
“How do you treat a situation where you encounter illegal aliens, maybe from one of the neighbouring countries, primarily Guatemala, doing illegal fishing in Belize?”

John Borland
“The Coast Guard has powers to detain and arrest under the fisheries regulations. Prior to the Coast Guard, the defence force used to operate along with fisheries officers. Now the Coast Guard can operate independently of the Fisheries Officers.”

Michael Hutchinson, Minister of State, Ministry of Local Government
“Shortly a new intake of recruits will be assembled for the Coast Guard which will provide additional man power to meet the operational demands at sea. Our government has committed to development and will seek to provide the security forces with the necessary equipment required to get the job done well.”

Robert Dieter, U.S. Ambassador to Belize
“Belize as a transit point, the danger that there is, is that when the traffickers come through they usually pay people off in drugs and guns and that’s creating a drug problem here in Belize and the guns are certainly not being used for peaceful purposes. So the fact that guns are transiting trough here is leaving behind a legacy of crime that’s really affecting your society. So our efforts are to try to secure our borders from the transiting of drugs but also to recognise that whatever help we can give you in dealing with this problem, both countries are really under attack.”

The Coast Guard says it will use one vehicle to deploy vessels at sea and the other as a fuel bowser at strategic locations in times of disaster.

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