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Nov 14, 2012

Police and B.D.F. descend on Lake I at dawn to conduct raids

The Lake Independence area is the first to be demarcated as a crime ridden area.  Since the weekend, police and B.D.F. have had a constant presence in the crime infested neighborhood and searches are being conducted without warrants. At the crack of dawn this morning, one of those searches was executed. Some residents were prepared for the eventuality, but others were taken by surprise; they were in deep slumber. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has a report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Since being officially named as one of several crime-ridden areas in Belize City, Lake Independence remains under intense police and military control.  Its residents are the subjects of sporadic, albeit carefully planned and executed sweeps.  This neighborhood, known colloquially as PIV, short for Peace In the Village, is an established gang turf.  Its breadth covers everywhere north of Mahogany Street, from Evergreen Street all the way down to La Croix Boulevard.

 

Over the past few months the number of homicides in this community has risen sharply.  Today, a task force of thirty, heavily armed officers, from various branches of law enforcement, is preparing its descent on the village.

 

It’s a little after five a.m. and a detail of men and women, gathered on the parade square at Militia Hall, is being briefed on the operation at hand.

 

Supt. Alden Dawson, O.C., C.I.B.

“We will behave out there as per normal, professionally.  We know our groups, fall in, know the vehicles and hit the targets.”

 

Their primary objective is to take a pocket of Zone 9, a two-block radius adjacent to Haulover Creek, by storm.  Moments after a cloudburst, the team deploys.  A caravan of patrol cars quickly makes its way into the vicinity, the fleetingly disappearing cover of darkness still in their favor.  The convoy descends on Flamboyant Street in one fell swoop, then immediately fans out.

 

The raid succeeds an announcement by the Minister of National Security, authorizing police, as well as members of the Belize Defense Force, to conduct search and seize operations without a warrant.  The effort is in light of a surge in homicides across the city.

 

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security [File: Nov. 2nd, 2012]

John Saldivar

“The police commissioner will be invoking today, for the first time I believe since the law was passed, the declaration of several crime infested areas of Belize City as crime ridden areas which will give his police and B.D.F. the power to search any and all houses in the area without the need for a warrant. This declaration will also allow the police and the B.D.F. to restrict movement in and out of these areas. These areas will be cordoned off and every person entering and exiting the area will be stopped and searched and a systematic house by house search of these areas will be done with immediate effect.”

 

The first house to be taken is on Croton Lane.  Its occupants are no strangers to law enforcement, frankly, they’ve been raided frequently since the recent declaration.

 

Voice of: Croton Lane Resident

“Every day I get up I peel open my house mek dehn could come een because I noh wahn nobody come stamp open my door like dat, yoh know.  Soh I lef my house wide open fu dehn.  Dis da di fourth time dehn arrest, dehn done search dis house ya already, four times eena di span a less than two weeks.”

 

Elsewhere, residents of nearby tenements are being roused from their sleep.  In one home a mother’s bedroom is being scoured while her children observe, wide-eyed.  Nothing illegal is found on the premises.  That process, repeated within the area, is simultaneous.

 

Despite exercising restraint and ability, residents question the presumed bias under which some members of the police department conduct their duty.

 

Voice of: Flamboyant Street Resident

“Ah wonda weh dehn wah do about di Lebanese and dehn otha foreigners that come.  How do they get into their houses upstairs to break down doors?  How do they search those people’s compound when they build over the whole land?  If you notice they build over their whole land.  They don’t have any yard space for you guys to run up into.  You will find a big iron door right at the street.  How do they break these?  Will these people be subjected to the same type of things that we were subjected to without explanation, without apology?”

 

Meanwhile, in an open area a stone’s throw away, military assets survey a vacant, overgrown lot.  These locations are ideal for stashing small quantities of marijuana.  In single file, moments later, they proceed to another empty space.  This time Toonje, a highly trained Belgian Malinois, is summoned to a hedge of bushes.  His hypersensitive nostrils detect trace amounts of the drug.  After meticulously unearthing the patch, tiny Ziploc bags, used in retail, as well as a piece of discarded cannabis stem, are discovered.

 

And so, the operation continued, yielding nothing of consequence.  Back at Militia Hall, shortly before eight o’clock, the team was debriefed.

 

Officer

“At this point it brings us to the end of the operation this morning right.  If you notice this morning we did a very small area, that would be Zone 6, I believe.  Like sentiments we received in most of the houses them, they are expecting the police, you know.  So the message has been echoed across, I believe, the entire city.”

 

The raid, according to one resident, demonstrated a level of professionalism by an often criticized police department.

 

Voice of: Flamboyant Street Resident

“This morning I am proud to say that I saw policemen, not animal GSUs.  We saw policemen this morning and this is what we will respect and accept in our neighborhood, policemen, not animals.”

 

Alden Dawson

Isani Cayetano

“The PIV area is a rather expansive area.  I was speaking with some of the residents and the boundaries are from behind BWS, all the way to La Croix Boulevard.  Is there any other operation to target any other areas within the PIV community?”

 

Supt. Alden Dawson

“Yes, yes.  Our intention is to continue operating in those areas that have been declared the crime-ridden areas and that, like you said, the entire PIV area.  But because of the numbers in personnel we had to take it in sections, you know.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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10 Responses for “Police and B.D.F. descend on Lake I at dawn to conduct raids”

  1. nq mercy for murderers says:

    Well done officers please keep it up .there is a lot to discover in that area.All those gaad almighty out there need to be cleaned up good job

  2. Rod says:

    This is an exercise in futility a grasping of straws this is what is done when incompetence is the norm everybody know when and where the police will show up he hehehe what an impotent and incompetent pm and gov.

  3. Uncle Benji says:

    Come on Belize, let’s support and cheer our law enforcement boys. We talk about crime out of control in the city, then let’s support them.

    Please Mr policeman, keep up the harassment. If it moves, smells or act like a gangbanger….. arrest them all….. mom, pop, grandparents, toddlers, aunts, uncles, men, women and dogs.

  4. Young Gial says:

    As per the news and the report from the senior officer, they neva find nothing in the area, hence the reason why Famboyant street resident is happy with the police and rejects the GSU. For obvious reason they like the police men dat gone search because they noh know fu search properly. But mek GSU mi deh in the area, and find de drugs and amunition from the PIV gangs, then you mi wah hear a lot of complaints and that is truely why they call the GSU animals because they know fu sniff out and find where the goods are being stashed.

  5. Storm says:

    As long as the boys in uniform perform professionally and according to their training, this program will be a good thing. It is necessary to gain control of the country and get the guns and drugs off the streets.

    I doubt this first operation will have dramatic results in terms of arrests to show, because any gangster with can fare presumably left the City during the long pre-raid publicity. Next time I hope the declaration will be gazetted at the same moment the officers start kicking in doors. Learn from experience.

  6. think wise says:

    this operation need to be everyday same way how they kill everyday. respect to the officers .
    if the guns and drugs are taken away then , we will have less crime. God bless Belize.

  7. reat says:

    four times in a two weeks is harassment.

  8. Westbredjay says:

    This is a start towards getting back our streets from terrorist acts. But I don’t think they should have announce what areas would be affected.. They should have withheld that information -reason being,NAtional security …… Don’t advertise you are coming and give a map detailing your plans. It’s like playing basketball and looking in the direction you wish to pass in a delayed mode.. I don’t believe much will come in the way of seizes of weapons and narcotics, people know they are coming … But in no way should they stop searching , keep up the work .. I pray we find peace in our nation.

  9. Southern says:

    way to go…but include GSU too

  10. junior says:

    Ppl this is a violation of human rights they should obtain a warrant to enter someones home regardless of the situation why would we accept the government really writing the constitution to try obtain peace when murderers walk out of court innocent everytime we start with this human right what will be next Belize is a demecratic society not a dictatorship remind the government that

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