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Home » Crime » Guatemalans plead guilty to Xate poaching
Jun 29, 2004

Guatemalans plead guilty to Xate poaching

Two Guatemalan youths, one a sixteen year old, will spend time in Hattieville Prison, after they were busted for illegally harvesting Xate leaves in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Sixteen-year-old Mauricio Mota and nineteen-year-old Erwin Juarez were arrested and charged on Saturday after a joint police-Belize Defence Force patrol caught them harvesting the exotic leaves in the area of Las Cuevas. Apart from the three bundles of Xate, a further search of Juarez led to the discovery of four rounds of twenty-two calibre ammunition. Mota and Juarez appeared in San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court this morning and pled guilty to the charge of illegal possession of forest produce. They were sentenced to a thousand dollar fine, or, in default, six months in prison. Juarez also pled guilty to the possession of unlicensed ammunition and was fined an additional ten thousand dollars or in default, three more years behind bars. At the same time three other boys ranging in age from ten to fourteen, were spared a similar fate. According to Officer in Charge of San Ignacio police, Gilroy Nicholas, on Friday afternoon, two boys, ages eleven and tweleve were brought in by the police/BDF patrol. Nicholas told News 5 that under Belizean law, let alone according to common sense, he could not charge the boys and the same night he personally handed over the children to the director of the OAS border office, Mathias Kruger. On Monday morning, Nicholas handed over another child, this time a fourteen-year-old boy, to the same OAS office. Kruger told News 5 in a telephone interview this afternoon that the cases have been documented and that he is satisfied that Belizean authorities handled the incidents professionally and that the boys were not ill-treated. Kruger says that his office was able to facilitate the reunification of the children with their families.

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