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Jul 8, 2020

Alleged Drug Traffickers Appear in Court

Eight Central American nationals were escorted to court today in handcuffs under the watchful eye of heavily armed police officers and the Gang Suppression Unit. The men were busted in September 2019 when a narco plane landed on the Coastal Road and police were able to nab them and seize a large quantity of cocaine, valued at some sixty million dollars.  The alleged narcos are facing charges of drug trafficking and drug importation.  Trial has been scheduled for August. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

This morning, the courthouse area in Belize City was swarming with a number of GSU and senior police officers for a high profile case before the senior magistrate. The case involves some eight foreign nationals who were slapped with charges relating to drug trafficking and the importation of illicit drugs into the country. The group of men are connected to a drug plane landing which occurred back on September ninth, 2019. Among them are the pilot and co-pilot of the narco plane. Miguel Cruz Meseguer, David Noe Orellano Discua, Carlos Humberto Henriquez Gomez, Juan Pablo Larrea Cruz, Allan Yovani Mejia and Norlan Jose Carrasco Lopez, are all represented.


Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley

Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley, Attorney

“Some eight persons have been charged for offenses in relation to the landing of a plane on the Coastal Road that involved the matter of bringing in drugs.  They have all been arraigned in Magistrate Court number one and because of the COVID-19 matter; they have not seen a court or a magistrate for several months. So today was a little bit of domestic clearing up in terms of where we now go from having arraigned and adjourned the matter for several occasions.  My understanding also is that they are different nationalities; most of them are from Honduras. One or two might be from Nicaragua and the others from other neighbouring republic. I know one told me he is from Mexico as well. So that is where we are at.”


The eight accused were picked up from different locations and arraigned in groups last year. Defense attorney, Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley, says that drugs and cash were seized in the major drug bust; the plane was carrying sixty million dollars worth of cocaine, which has since been destroyed. He’s representing Juan Larrea and Miguel Meseguer.


Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley

“Everybody has been given their disclosures. If they don’t speak English, they have been given the Spanish translator because that is the law; you are to be given your information in a language you understand. So we’ve cleared the hurdle, everybody has said yes, they have received their disclosures, this is the situation, that is the situation so we are basically good to go now in terms of trial. So where we are is that we have cleared a number of elementary hurdles in preparation for trial. The matter was today adjourned on the understanding that we are now tentatively set for a trial date on the twenty-fifth day of August, which is next month. You would know that they are all foreigners and they have been in our prison for some time. I think the incident was from September of last year and we are almost one year. The rules that govern trials in the magistrate court are going to kick in so we are at that stage. my learned friend from Belmopan, Oswald Twist, represents some of the persons. I think Mister Banner may represent some others and I am representing one or two of the persons who are involved.”


Duane Moody

“Sir, your client was nabbed along with the rest on the scene?”


Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley

“No, no. This is a matter in which my understanding is that a perimeter was set up. The police were able to prevent the plane from leaving; they found drugs, but no one was found with any drugs or with the plane or near the plane or by the plane or in the plane or on top of the plane or underneath of the plane. So that would be a matter for those ones, those lawyers would want to make an issue of that. But my clients, to my understanding—I mean I only focus on my clients and I now have to focus on one or two others—but they were not found near the plane or with any drugs.”


While trial is set for August, it is yet to be determined if the case will be tried at the magistrate’s court level or before a justice of the Supreme Court?


Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley

“That is still a little up in the air. The prosecutor notified the senior magistrate that in the course of now and the date set for the return; he will be in a better position to notify the attorneys and the accused persons if they go to the Supreme Court. If they go to the Supreme Court, it will be a totally different matter. They will have to fall in line; there will be a jury and it will be perhaps a harder battle for the prosecution in relation to establishing some basic matters for some of the persons who are accused. The importance of the summary jurisdiction court is that an experienced, trained magistrate is going to listen to the various facts and evidence that will come out and decide what happens after that. If anybody is found guilty, the law provides that the magistrate can send the matter up to the Supreme Court for sentencing purposes because a summary jurisdiction court, we lawyers are having some concerns that some of the laws—the magistrates ought not to be called upon to be sentencing people for very long terms in prison. That really should be the matter for a judge in the Supreme Court. But in relation to drug trafficking, drug cultivation, drug offenses, a magistrate has the option where there is a large amount of drugs involved and a person is found guilty for actually trafficking, big involvement in trafficking, they can be sent to a judge who would then have the authority. The law says what can be done by the magistrate and what can be done by a judge in the Supreme Court.”


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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