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Feb 28, 2020

How Does Belize Effectively Mitigate Drug Plane Landings?

In Thursday’s bust of a Golf Stream narco plane off the Coastal Road, sixty-nine bales of cocaine were found, amounting to two thousand and seventy parcels with a huge street value of as much as one hundred million dollars.  The operation was coordinated by the B.D.F., Police and counterparts from the region, who tracked the executive jet as it departed from Venezuela. The magnitude of the drug trade is such that local agencies are severely handicapped in resources and personnel and so desperately in need of external collaboration to wage an effective war on the narcos. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The removal of sixty-nine bales of cocaine from an executive jet on Thursday morning in an isolated location off the Coastal Road is quite a haul for law enforcement agencies working jointly in pursuing this aircraft since its departure from Venezuela sometime around midnight on February twenty-seventh.  What we know thus far is that each bundle bears the label “Manzana” on its packaging, presumably the brand associated with its Colombian manufacturers.  It is believed that the cargo, once successfully landed in Belize, would have been ferried by sea to its onward destination.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The trend we have seen recently is maritime, especially when it comes to if they have to move within the country for an extended period of time, they run the risk of being caught, as opposed to using the maritime domain.  So we believe that they would have moved from that location to a maritime location and then get it out.”


But that never happened; instead, the men, including the pilot and those charged with offloading the contents of the aircraft, beat a hasty retreat into the surrounding wilderness upon knowledge that the joint taskforce was closing in on them.


Chester Williams

“We do see tracks in the area, for vehicles, and there are some roads in the area so we believe that they may have fled by way of vehicle.  The exact geographic location, I don’t know how to describe to you, but it’s an off-road off the Coastal Highway.”


Topography aside, tracking and effectively capturing narcos in the act of conveyance has proven increasingly difficult for local law enforcement.  It is a fact that Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte readily accepts.  However, challenges notwithstanding, he says that the country continues to receive support from its regional counterparts.


Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security

“We absolutely have the respect and the confidence of the DEA and many other U.S. agencies to try and fight the scourge of drug trafficking.  So, the collaboration has improved, it will only get better as we go forward and ask for the help that we need in terms of artillery and the necessary technology to not only track and follow these planes in the transshipment of drugs but also to deal with it from a tactical standpoint once there is unfortunately or regrettably any confrontation on the ground.”


Thankfully, the responding officers did not come under gunfire when they approached the aircraft.  Upon arrival on the scene of the landing, all they encountered, aside from the lading, were two MI6 rifles and a few other pieces of combat equipment.


Chester Williams

“Probably they believed that we knew exactly where they were going and they might have suspected that we had been informed that the plane would land there and it could be that they didn’t have sufficient manpower and firepower so they wouldn’t stay and fight with the police.  The last time when we had that firefight on the Coastal Road, there were only about four persons, so it would appear as if when it is done way within Belize the amount of manpower that they would have is not as much as they would do when it is near the borders because near the borders they would have the persons from Mexico who would come in and they would have huger numbers.”


…and they would also be armed to the teeth with sophisticated weapons and tactical gear.


Michael Peyrefitte

“We know what we need to do.  We are prepared to do what we need to do, but we need personnel, we need weapons, we need the technology so that we can fight toe-to-toe with these narco-traffickers because these people are carrying fifty caliber weapons and their technology and the arsenal that they have and the resources that they have is incredible.  So the state, at the very least, has to match what they have so that we can be successful in stopping them from moving the drugs.”


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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