Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Featured, People & Places » Chester Curving the Contraband Culture During COVID-19
May 22, 2020

Chester Curving the Contraband Culture During COVID-19

The Village of San Victor which is located off the Philip Goldson Highway in the Corozal District is a well-known hotspot for the contraband of goods. Its proximity to the Rio Hondo provides easy access to Mexico. Villagers simply paddle away to the other side to do their shopping and come back to the village loaded with contraband goods. The Customs Department has not been able to stop the contrabandistas but the police and health authorities hope that the surge in COVID 19 cases across the border will persuade Belizeans that crossing the river illegally is not worth the risk to life. Here is Hipolito Novelo with a report.


Hipolito Novelo reporting

For the villagers of San Victor Village the river behind me is much than just a bordering village, it is an avenue for their livelihood. Along the Rio Hondo River, on the Mexican side, several communities such as Ruby Rosa are located. It is from these communities that villagers get their groceries and other contraband items. But with COVID-19 on the rise in Mexico, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams is trying to curve that contraband culture.


The heavy police presence was felt today in San Victor Village as Commissioner of Police Chester Williams accompanied by commanding officers for Orange Walk and Corozal, and well armed police men descended on the small village.


The mission: stop contraband and the illegal entry of persons via the Rio Honda especially since COVID-19 cases in Mexico are skyrocketing. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing residents to cross the river, into Mexico, and purchase cheap goods.


Chester Williams, Commissioner Of Police

“We know that prior to this pandemic if persons were caught with unaccustomed goods that is believed that is going to be used for their own livelihood that customs would normally give them a run but at this time because of the pandemic and the situation in Mexico we cannot allow you to go over Mexico any at all much less to come back from their with even a pound of flour. So it is something that we asked them to look at the risk.”


And Commissioner Williams did the asking personally. In the village, persons who are contrabandistas are known. Williams and his senior officers paid them a visit, asking them to cease and desist from carrying out their contraband activities.


Chester Williams

“You will get charged for your contraband goods. You will get charged for going and coming back illegally. And we don’t think we need to go through that at this time. That is all we are asking for. We do not have to have any confrontations. I don’t know if you have anything that you wanted to say?”


San Victor Villager (TRANSLATED)

“I don’t have anything to say. The only thing I know is that I am not going there right now. My family is home. They are not going out right now. I know the danger that is why I stay home.”


Chester Williams

“That is the best thing to do.”


San Victor Villager (TRANSLATED)

“We, as this started, are not going. That is the reality. We are not going to the Mexican side or anywhere else because of the sickness. I can’t tell you who is going or not because I am here and I am not watching. I can’t tell you. We are not animals. We are humans like them. It is good that they stop and take the stop but sometimes up to the bicycle they take. I am in agreement with what he is saying, I agree to everything.”


Chester Williams

“It cannot be that the security forces and customs will be in the area abusing people because that may aggravate them and cause them to become erratic and we don’t want that. It can create confrontation that is unnecessary.”


On Thursday, customs officers had to retreat after they were met by an aggressive group of villagers while attempting to arrest the drivers of two vehicles which were loaded with contraband goods.


Chester Williams

“That is what prompted the visit. I saw the video footage where those are concerned and so I decided that I am going to come in and see what can be done from a law enforcement standpoint to try and bring this problem to an end.”


And to put it to an end, Williams needs the assistance of the village leader and members. He sat down with Village Chairman; Concepcion Cobb informing him that police and BDF presence in the village will be increased.


Concepcion Cobb, Chairman, San Victor Village

Concepcion Cobb

“I think that the village of San Victor can see that they are doing work to control the COVID-19 for our people. Right now we are near the river, seeing the movements, how the illegal can enter or contraband.  And so the authorities are here to work for you all and so I don’t believe that someone should be angry because for me it is a good thing to protect our health. If anything happens later, if the authorities manage to catch someone and lock them up, it will not be our fault because they are already warning us.”


Recently a Mexican national was captured in Santa Cruz Village, another contraband hotspot along the Rio Hondo.


In San Victor Village today, the river bank was quiet and the river was calm.


Hipolito Novelo

However, the concern now is illegal entry of Mexicans to this side of the border. Behind you’ll see two boats, fully equip with an engine to transport those Mexicans.


Chester Williams

“The Mexican is in quarantine in Corozal at the ITVET building. Those who are captured yesterday are also in the quarantine center. Once the quarantine period is over which is twenty one days. They will be charged and taken before the court and the court will decide what happens to those persons from there. We also have four BDF patrols in the river, boat patrol. They stay in this area between Santa Cruz, Douglas and here with a view to ensure that deter as much as they can the issue of contraband. When a person is going to fend for their livelihood they are going to do what it takes. And it is not that law enforcement has condoned it because we all know that customs and police and joint patrols have been in this area. We have ran many operations in this area all with a view to prevent these things from occurring but like with everything this there is always no full proof. There is nothing that we can do that will stop it totally but we can surely do a lot to contain and that is what we are trying to do now.”

Hipolito Novelo

Changing the contraband culture in San Victor Village is going to be a difficult task since residents there heavily rely  on cheap goods from across the river but time will tell if heavy police presence and BDF soldiers will change that.

Reporting from San Victor, Hipolito Novelo News Five.


Commissioner Williams and his team also visited Douglas and Santa Cruz villages- other known contraband hotspots along the Rio Hondo.


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.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed