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Apr 16, 2019

Customs Officer in Hot Water in Peini

Senior custom officer Elmer Torres is in hot water tonight and under investigation after a video released on social media earlier today went viral.  The recording, which News Five understands was done over a year ago, purports to show the ill-treatment of an American expatriate at the hands of the customs official in Punta Gorda.  According to Guillermo Ortiz, he was detained by Torres who allegedly demanded that he pay a fee of five hundred dollars to be released from custody.  The footage then shows another person inside a holding cell seemingly corroborating Ortiz’s claim of extortion.  What is alarming is the complete lack of professionalism in Torres’ conduct as he can be heard unleashing a litany of expletives when dealing with the ex-pat.  In the video, Torres is heard threatening to expel Ortiz by escorting him to the Jalacte border and leaving him there, while impounding an RV in which Ortiz is said to have illegally crossed into the country with.  There are a number of questions, but first we’ll tell you what actions are being taken in investigating the incident.  News Five spoke with Comptroller of Customs Colin Griffith this evening and he told us that an investigation into the matter begins with a detailed report being submitted by Torres, who has until Thursday to do so.  Thereafter, any action taken against him will be subject to Public Service Regulations.  Secondly, we are told that Torres has filed a defamation suit against Ortiz which is presently before the Supreme Court.  We also contacted Ombudsman Lionel Arzu, who informed us that his office is in receipt of two letters of complaint, the most recent reaching his desk this morning.  According to the Ombudsman, if at the end of the investigation Torres is found criminally liable, the matter will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.  Here’s how that exchange unfolded.

 

Guillermo Ortiz

Guillermo Ortiz, Retired U.S. Veteran

“It’s not good at all and I haven’t been charged with anything and I have been burglarized.  I have been extorted.  I have been harassed.  I have been threatened… Feces on the wall, raw sewage on the floor. What’s your name bro?”

 

Detainee

“I am Felix, sir.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“What happened yesterday?”

 

Detainee

“Well, I just saw that how Mr. Torres come and said that you had to pay like five hundred dollars and mek ih get you out of here and deport you to Jalacte border and leff you there.  That’s what I hear what he said and he wants you out of the country.  That’s all I got to say.  That’s what I hear and I don’t want to…  That’s all I’ve got to say.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“Thank you, I appreciate that.”

 

Elmer Torres, the Chief Customs Officer in Punta Gorda is currently being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman.

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“While I am here, could I ask you about the appeal?”

 

Elmer Torres

“Why you get attorneys involved and all of that [bleep] when we’re trying to help you bro?  You know what we’re going to do today?  I’ma take you back at Jalacte and you’re going through back there and we’re taking you with police excursion.  I don’t want any attorney coming in and calling my office because we were trying to assist you for the past [bleep] four months, alright.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“Look, I’m trying to be reasonable, I’m not…”

 

Elmer Torres

“You’re pissing me off with all the [bleep].  I’ve already told you bring that [bleep] trailer here [and] you’re trying to evade all kinds of [bleep].

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“I’m not trying to evade anything.  I brought the mechanic.”

 

Elmer Torres

“I’ll let the police take you, we’re gonna lock you down and we’re taking you [bleep] out of the country.  Unu [bleep] lee bwai feel like unu important mein.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“What about my things?”

 

Elmer Torres

“[bleep] you and yo thing.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“You know, I’m just trying to do the right thing and make sure that I’m covered and I’m protected and now I’m being punished.”

 

What have I done to deserve any of this?

 

Elmer Torres

“Shaneka, we wahn em, Jam wahn haul di mobile home.  We wahn lock that down and we wahn, I wahn personally ker he [bleep] through Jalacte.  Mek ih cohn right through weh ih cohn.  No mo talking wid he…  Dehn bally noh appreciate nothing weh yoh do fi dehn.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“This isn’t true at all.  Nobody even wants to let me talk.”

 

Shaneka

“I don’t have anything to say to you.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“What did I do to deserve this?”

 

Elmer Torres

“Hamilton done call me, you know.  Wahn attorney, if we could wait fu he ‘til tomorrow.  We noh di wait fi no attorney come here tomorrow.  You’re going out today.  In fact, by midday you’ll be out of here.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“What about my things?”

 

Elmer Torres

“You don’t have any right.”

 

Guillermo Ortiz

“I never committed a crime, I was never charged with anything mein, this is not right.”


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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No Responses for “Customs Officer in Hot Water in Peini”

  1. G says:

    Mr Torres that wasn’t right. You don’t treat another person like that! You owe Mr. Ortiz a serious apology!

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