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Jul 28, 2006

Immigration director?s cousin arrested for trafficking

As Belize continues to try to prove to the United States that we are taking measures to stop human trafficking, tonight there is word that a relative of the Director of Immigration has been arrested for the crime. On Friday, forty-two year old Amparo Zetina, the owner of the Caracol Bar was formally arraigned on one count of human trafficking. Zetina was offered bail in the sum of three thousand dollars or two sureties of the same amount. The case has been adjourned until the eighteenth of August. According to officials from Human Services, Zetina was detained following a report by nineteen year old Guatemalan Amabilia Esquivel. Last Thursday, Esquivel went to the Corozal Police Station and told authorities that she had been attacked and beaten. During the course of an interview with the cops and human services, the authorities began to suspect that Esquivel was a victim of human trafficking. Esquivel’s story is that her employer, Zetina, had initially hired her to work in a restaurant. But shortly after her arrival in Corozal, she was repeatedly asked to sexually satisfy male patrons at the Caracol Bar. Esquivel claims she said no to the requests, but that Zetina refused to pay her for her work. When she went to a friend to get help, Esquivel says she was ambushed and beaten by persons believed to be acting on her boss’s behalf. That’s when she decided to go to the cops. We understand tonight that Amparo Zetina is a cousin of Director of Immigration Carmen Zetina. Sources also tell News Five that a visiting delegation from the United States is in the country this week as part of routine evaluations. In June, Belize was downgraded and placed in the tier three category by the U.S. for (quote) “not meeting minimum standards to fight trafficking in persons.” The country was given ninety days to get its act together. In one of its most noticeable responses to the classification, government named Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Human Development Anita Zetina as chairperson of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee.

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