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Oct 21, 2019

Di Plane Land; Yes, Di Plane Land…

In the wake of another suspected drug plane landing, the Ministry of National Security says it does not have the resources to track or intercept planes entering the airspace. On Sunday morning, police discovered a hawker jet near Blue Creek, in the general area where an executive jet landed ten days ago. The suspected narco-jet is one of four that reportedly left Venezuela; one was intercepted in Nicaragua and another in Mexico.  The fourth aircraft has not been located.  As is customary, police found no one in the area and its cargo had already been unloaded.  The jet has been moved to the B.D.F. Air Wing. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Another suspected drug plane, found near the Mennonite community of Blue Creek, in Orange Walk District, has been taken into custody.  Over the weekend, a corporate aircraft departed from northeastern South America and was one of four flights being tracked by regional authorities upon takeoff.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“On that night in question, Saturday night, we were actually monitoring four tracks at the same time that left out of Venezuela and in the absence of direct intelligence, as to where exactly the planes will land, we have to find ways to deploy officers in different strategic locations across the country.  And it’s a challenge, but we try our best to do that and we did that Saturday night leading into Sunday morning.  We had our officers deployed all over the place, hoping that the plane would have landed at one of the locations where the officers were.  But again, it went into the Blue Creek area which is closer to the Mexican border.”

 

One of those airplanes had its coordinates set on northern Belize and after changing its flight pattern once entering its airspace, finally landed on a crude runway within that area.  The flight crew and the welcoming party had enough time to discharge the contents of the aircraft, before escaping into neighboring Mexico.

 

Chester Williams

“Yesterday morning, police visited the Blue Creek area near the Mexican border where they came across one Hawker Jet that was parked on a makeshift airstrip.  Police conducted a search of the plane and nothing was found therein.  Searches were conducted within the area where the plane was located and again, nothing was found.  We believe that the plane may have brought in drugs and that the drugs may have been taken over to the Mexican side.”

 

According to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, Mexican authorities have since been informed of the landing and are on alert should the illicit cargo and its couriers be headed in their direction.

 

Chester Williams

“We have since communicated with our Mexican counterparts to be on the lookout on the other side of the border to see if they would be able to intercept the cargo of the plane.  Now, just as the public is, we are also concerned about the landings of these planes within our borders, but this is a regional thing that law enforcement agencies are dealing with.  We know last night, Nicaragua intercepted a plane.  We have had instances, I think Mexico also got one last night, a smaller type plane.”

 

Narco-trafficking is a regional issue, however, Belize is woefully lacking in terms of its ability to successfully track and intercept drug planes entering its skies.  It is a point that has been reiterated by the Ministry of National Security, one that is also emphasized by ComPol Williams.

 

Chester Williams

“The truth is, it is not easy for us.  The resources are lacking, I guess you all have read the release issued by the minister yesterday where he outlined basically some of the challenges that we are facing.  But despite the fact that resources are lacking in terms of a secondary radar, we still do our utmost best to try and intercept these planes when they come into our airspace.  Yes, we wish we could have intercepted more.”

 

Notwithstanding these shortcomings, when asked if there is any consideration to deploy police and B.D.F. personnel to the area on a permanent basis, in relation to an installation, the response we’ve been provided is nothing shy of circumspect.

 

Chester Williams

“There are a number of things that we will be doing and some of which we have done, or we are doing, that I’m not going to divulge.  To go to war and tell your enemy what your strategies are is like committing suicide.  So we’re not going to delve too much into what we intend to do.  But may I remind you that the Blue Creek area is a very wide area and moving from point A to point B is difficult, it’s not always good terrain and the distance and the different possible locations where aircrafts can land is a lot.  So it’s something they have to look at to see what more can be done.”

 

Around the same period in 2018, a total of twelve aircrafts landed in Belize.  So far for this year, seven landings have been recorded.

 

Chester Williams

“Last year around this time we had twelve confirmed landings.  This time, this year, we have seven confirmed landings.  So our efforts have been able to deter many of these planes from landing and they go over to either Mexico or Guatemala and we think that it is paying off, but we also believe that we can do more and we will do our best to do more.  The ministry has said that we will continue to do our best to capture these planes and we are concerned just as the public is, rightfully so.  But I want to reassure the public that it’s not that we’re not doing anything, we are doing the best that we could with the resources that we have.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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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