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Dec 6, 2019

Customs Officials Say Allegations of an Incident in Santa Cruz Village are an Exaggeration of a Minor Incident

There are serious allegations coming out of Santa Cruz Village in the Orange Walk District. The village is a hotspot for contraband and other illegal activities. The reports speak of the alleged drowning of an individual who was attempting to swim across the Rio Hondo River from Belize to Mexico, but was accosted by officials in the area and drowned.  But sources in the Customs Department and Belize Defense Force deny the reports.  Still, several persons have sworn to the incident, but out of fear, have equally refused to go on camera. Many have complained of officials abusing their power in the area. Here is a report from the village.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Several persons are alleging that officials in the area have provoked the death of a man who drowned in the Rio Hondo River on Thursday afternoon. But the identity of the individual is unknown since, according to many, he was among a group of persons, including Cubans who were attempting to swim across the river into Mexico.

They were allegedly intercepted by officials who were in the area but something went wrong and one of the men drowned. But there is no official report of such an incident taking place and when we checked with personnel from the BDF and Customs in the area, they said not so. In fact, they say a minor incident was taken out of context. The officials say they spotted a man swimming in the area. They approached him and realized he was a Mexican national who was diving so they returned to their post.

Customs officials say they hired two divers from San Antonio Village to look for a drone they accidentally dropped into the river.

Persons in the area point out that a similar incident happened only days ago with a man who was swimming in the river. He, wishing to remain anonymous, told us what he experienced.

 

Voice of: Complainant

“I mi di swim pan the riva. I mi de like half da di middle pan di riva then afta that di boat mi di come and the Mexican people halla ata mi ‘B.D.F. di come’. So, I stay da di middle because I say the boat can’t cross to the Mexican side. So, when I see they cross the Mexican side and try drown me. I tell di man I no gat nothing. I no gat nothing pan me. Then the B.D.F. tell me, ina Spanish ih halla ‘a mi no me importa.’ So, I tell di man I no gat nothing and the man try drown me and only because the Mexican people see me and the Mexican people help me. I think they stone one a them B.D.F. and the B.D.F. lef me. Them bally gaan and afta dat I continue swim and I reach the Mexican side. I tell di man I no gat nothing, I no di contraband and the man tell me ‘oh, he no give a…’ cause he wa ker me and this and that and di man no want I cross. The man dash me lat a wata pan my face.” 

 

Reporter

“Using the boat?”

 

Voice of: Complainant

“Yes, pan the boat. Only two B.D.F., only two B.D.F. because deh neva have no immigration or nothing, only two B.D.F. “

 

It is important to note that the area is not a legal point of entry and has been a hot spot for contraband activity.  It is known that human and drug smuggling also take place along this point between both countries.

As the Christmas Season sets in, for many days now, B.D.F. personnel have been camping out at the river bank where canoes once lined up and ferried Belizeans across into San Francisco Botes. Customs officials have also stepped up their patrols in the area. Duane Moody for News Five.


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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