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Sep 9, 2002

Police officer/BDF soldiers involved in kidnapping

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It’s a story that threatens to permanently and seriously damage the reputation of Belizean law enforcement: a uniformed police officer and two uniformed members of the Belize Defence Force involved in the kidnapping of two Belize City residents. According to Police Press Officer G. Michael Reid, around 11:00 Sunday morning, the officer and BDF soldiers, armed with a service revolver and two M-16′s respectively, arrived by car at the home of forty-five year old Galindo Pedro Perez, a fisherman of Sittee Street in the St. Martin de Porres area of Belize City. At the time, Perez was at home taking care of his five-year-old daughter. The policeman slapped handcuffs on Perez and escorted him and the child to the car waiting outside. The men took the little girl to a family friend, but Perez was driven to a nearby boat landing. There, police sources tell News 5, Perez was handed over to three civilians travelling in a skiff named “Tough Guy”, and the men headed out to sea in the direction of Swallow Caye. On the island, they roughed Perez up, reportedly trying to get information about a stash of drugs he and two friends were supposed to have found earlier in the week. In the end, Perez was forced to reveal the whereabouts of his two friends, Juan Mendoza and a man identified only as “Patchakan”. The abductors made a trip to pick up Mendoza, but decided to go back for Patchakan. That’s when police were tipped off and the three civilians, the policeman, Mendoza and Perez were ambushed and detained. Tonight, the policeman and three of his accomplices are still in custody, but the two BDF soldiers have yet to join them. News 5 understands that because of their status as members of the Defence Force, certain protocols must be followed prior to their detention and subsequent investigation in a criminal matter. Due to the possible ramifications this incident could have on community relations with law enforcement officials, Commissioner of Police Carmen Zetina says the case will be handled expeditiously and the criminals, whoever they may be, will be brought to justice.

Carmen Zetina, Commissioner of Police

“We’re still investigating that matter that happened yesterday morning after 11:00 where a person was abducted from his home in Belize City. But that is still under investigation. What I know is that a policeman and allegedly two BDFs are involved and we’re looking at it. By the end of the day we’ll know exactly what happened”

Janelle Chanona

Do you know of any possible motive?”

Carmen Zetina

“Well the evidence seems to indicate it’s drug connected in regards to what happened. The only this is that it’s drug related.”

Janelle Chanona

“Now I know you can’t comment on what will happen to the BDF officers, but the police in this case what will happen if…

Carmen Zetina

“Well, if, depending on how the evidence goes, certainly he will be charged criminally and will be interdicted from the department and again be subject to disciplinary action.”

According to police, the identities of the police officer, BDF soldiers and the three civilians will not be made public unless they are charged with a crime.

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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