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Feb 8, 2013

Contraband and clashes with Customs

Contraband and clashes with Customs – those are two of the staples in the rural northern Belize way of life. On Monday evening, one man from San Victor in the Corozal District had a brush with a Customs patrol which landed him in the hospital. He claims that he accidentally ran into the back of a Customs vehicle as he turned off the highway heading home, and officers then beat him badly. The official Customs version is that he rammed into them with his vehicle, and they make no mention and have no explanation for how he ended up unconscious on the road bleeding from injuries to his face, head and body. Today News Five was in San Victor and freelance reporter Mike Rudon went looking for answers.


Voice of: Lisa Cawich, Complainant

“I was coming into the village and I saw the accident and I stop by and saw that it was my uncle. But he is a guy that will only stop at the junction to pick up people and take them to the village. By the time he was going back to the village the customs overtook him and stop in front of him because they thought he was taking contraband. So he stopped behind them and they knocked him. All his face was burst up. I just saw blood.”


Mike Rudon, Reporting

And when we got to the home of forty-three year old Adolfo Benito Cawich, we saw where all that blood came from. Cawich had an injury to his face, and a few dozen stitches showed where he had received gashes behind both ears and the back of the head. He said he was heading home in his white Mitsubishi pickup when he ran into a Customs vehicle – literally.


Adolfo Benito Cawich

Adolfo Benito Cawich, Says Customs Officers Beat Him

“I was entering at the junction coming  from Orange Walk towards the junction of San Victor; and I didn’t realize that there was someone parked there in front  and I noticed it about ten feet from the highway into the entrance and I ran into the vehicle and I didn’t realize what kind of vehicle it was. When I hit the vehicle, two armed men got out of the car and pointed their guns at me and told me not to move and I did not move. I didn’t realize what happened and when my kids got to the site, I was already beaten.”


Cawich says that he never approached the officers nor did he have any conversation with them. He doesn’t even remember anything after the first blow.


Adolfo Benito Cawich

“No, no. All they did was point their guns at me and told me not to move and that’s all. I don’t really remember what happened after that only that I was beaten up. My head and even my body are bruised.”


Danny Cawich, First on the Scene

“I mi di come from Orange Walk from fix wah TV—I mi di come with my uncle—and same time we mi di come and as I bang the Buena Vista junction, the feeder road, I see wah accident. I see my dad vehicle pan one side and I see the custom’s vehicle and I figured out what’s happening. And immediately when I looked on the ground I saw my dad; his face was on the ground—all bleeding. I was saying that he was already dead. Due to the blood on his face, you can’t even see his eyes; nothing.”


Danny Cawich claims that he tried to help his father but Customs Officers held him at gunpoint and tried to take away his keys. He managed to get to his father’s side while his uncle, who is a Police officer, spoke to them. He says although his father was unconscious and bleeding badly, the officers seemed more concerned with towing a vehicle which contained suspected contraband. So when a taxi passed he took advantage.


Danny Cawich

“Same time the taxi was coming and I asked the taxi if he can carry my dad to the hospital. He said yes, it is an emergency obviously so let’s go. So the taxi driver and me put him into the taxi and we gone. My dad, he already lost a lot of blood due to the timing that he was on the ground and with no attention.”


Mike Rudon

Danny Cawich

“How many stitches did he get? I see he has stitches all over. Bout how many stitches in all he had to get?”


Danny Cawich

“Well I don’t really know, but I imagine it is more than thirty or twenty.”


Cawich was admitted to the Northern Regional Hospital where he was treated and observed for twenty-four hours because of the degree of his injuries. Mike Rudon for News Five.


News Five spoke to officer in charge of Customs Corozal Miguel Uk, who told us that he has heard rumors about the beating but has not received written reports from his officers so cannot really comment. An official release from the Corozal Police Department yesterday makes mention of the collision but has no word of the driver and nothing about the altercation which led to the injuries. Uk told News Five that Adolfo Benito Cawich will be charged for obstruction, but will wait for him to come for his impounded vehicle first, since they would prefer not to go to San Victor due to the reception they would likely receive.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “Contraband and clashes with Customs”

  1. Genotu Rembiuos says:

    As usual, they have guns, what do people expect of them?
    They so lucky than man is NOT my dad !!! they !&*^^n lucky !!!

  2. Storm says:

    I’m not even going to try to defend the Customs officers — the fact that they failed to write a report shows that they were acting outside the law, hoping nothing would ever be reported. with our hospital and morgue filled recently with Belizeans beaten, even killed by rogue police from every formation, this case demands a criminal investigation by our best and most honest.

    Until we can trust the men with badges to follow the law before they enforce it, we will just be a lawless jungle.

    Let’s keep the eyes of the nation on this and the other cases, and see if police investigate these police crimes against the people.

  3. blaze says:

    Our country’s law enforcement bodies have men and women who start out with impeccable records but these officers are placed with corrupt officials who make even the best officers go bad. it starts small, taking a bribe here turning a blind eye there until eventually they are as corrupt as the other officers. The same law enforcement officers break the laws and harshly reprimand the hard working people of Belize. trafffic to police to customs. all the same. how can they enforce the laws if they themselves do not know it.

  4. ceo says:

    No one should be beaten by the any law enforcement this way unless they pull a weapon on officers then it is different, but even so no more force then is nessary to subdue the citizen should be used.

    Neither is this guy is not telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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