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Apr 3, 2019

Who Authorized the Release of 12 Guatemalans and Vessel?

Twelve Guatemalan nationals were found with over fifty thousand U.S. dollars in cash in the southern waters of Belize last Friday.  The men and their vessel were in the Moho area when they were intercepted by the Belize Coastguard.  They were taken to the Punta Gorda police station, the cash was counted and the Guats were soon released with the cash and the mobile phones found on the vessel. National Security confirmed the incident saying the men were here to transact legitimate business and therefore released. But the police did not offer comments then or today when we pressed them. C.E.O. of National Security, Felix Enriquez, was also asked today about the quick release of the men and why.  Here is his take and that of ComPol Williams on the matter.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The matter is still being looked at, at this time.”

 

Reporter

“Was the F.I.U., the Financial Intelligence Unit, consulted in terms of releasing the cash?”

 

Chester Williams

“As I said, the matter is still being looked at, at this time. I won’t comment any further on it right now.”

 

Felix Enriquez

Felix Enriquez, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“It is concerning. I heard about it. We were actually on a planning session on Saturday for the defence side…it was the coastguard that discovered them. And naturally, the coastguard handed them over to the police. Once it got to that point that they were handed over to the police, really the coastguard backed off. I am told later on that indeed it was a legitimate transaction and that’s why they were released. I afraid that’s all I know at this time; I am still awaiting police.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir but we are being told that it isn’t the police responsibility; it was that of the coastguard who had detained them.”

 

Felix Enriquez

“The coastguard made the arrest and it is not for me to create a back and forth between the police and the coastguard; they both work for the same ministry. But in terms of jurisdiction that is what I understand from Captain Bennett.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir do you understand what the protocol is though? I think a lot of people would question and I would assume that the F.I.U. also would question, man by law, a person can only have ten thousand dollars cash on their person. These persons had over forty thousand U.S. dollars on them. They entered Belizean territory. How did you get that money? Some may argue that legitimate businessmen wouldn’t carry that amount of cash on them.”

 

Felix Enriquez

“That is the report that I got as well. I am not certain what happened afterwards. I am only told that it was a legitimate transaction. That led me to believe that they would have followed the legitimate avenues.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir, one last question for me. Who made the decision to release the men?”

 

Felix Enriquez

“Again, I am not certain why they were released or who made the decision for them to be released. I could find out. After I heard that the coastguard had handed them over, I was really not too much concerned afterwards. I became concerned when I heard that they were indeed released and they were questions surrounding that. But I was told that it was because it was a legitimate transaction.”


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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