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Jul 9, 2020

23 Males, 4 Females Locked Up Under Anti-Gang S.O.E.

After spending two nights in lockdown, four women are among a group of twenty-seven gang members who were carted away to the Belize City Prison this afternoon. The police dragnet extended to a total of ninety-nine gang members detained during a predawn raid on Tuesday morning on the Southside of the city. Police are seeking other individuals who fled the city at the start of the state of emergency and law enforcement is convinced they can’t hide for too long. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This afternoon, twenty-seven men and women were trooped to the Belize Central Prison from Belize City and Ladyville where they have been detained since Tuesday.  While ninety-nine persons were initially arrested as part of a south side sweep in the wee early hours of July seventh, only a handful from two particular gangs have been committed.  Under armed police escort the inmates were accepted and processed by the prison administration.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The Anti-gang Taskforce and GSU are going through the list, sifting out those whom we don’t think need to go up at this time.  Like I said, we want to be fair to people.  If it is that they are not a part of what’s happening, causing the havoc in our streets then we don’t want to capture them at this time.  We’re going to give them that opportunity to continue to do the good things that they are doing.  I think that so far our list of persons who are expected to go to prison today because the minister is going to sign the detention orders very shortly and those persons who will go up will be a total of twenty-seven persons.”

 

Of the three anti-gang states of emergency that have been effected thus far, it is the first time that women are being locked up for their purported involvement in gang activity.  Four young ladies made the sixteen mile journey from Belize City in separate vehicles from those that were used to transport their male counterparts.  The thirty-day detention is primarily to ease tensions among two feuding gangs that resulted in deadly gun violence last weekend.

 

Chester Williams

“There are still a few persons from the list of persons that need to go to prison who were a part of what is happening, but we have not had them in custody so we are still working in apprehending some of them.  We are going to put out those wanted posters today, like we did the last time and seek the public’s assistance in locating them.  If it is that they are in a crab hole we are going to dig them out, wherever they go we are going to find them.”

 

The issue of possible S.O.E. fatigue has been dismissed by the authorities and Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte says that residents are clamouring for more stringent measures to be taken against criminals.

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security

“The cry has been to be tougher on criminals and lawbreakers.  If you, and I will always maintain this, we don’t have a perfect system but which system you know weh perfect?  No system perfect, but by and large, a law-abiding citizen has nothing to fear in a state of emergency a law abiding citizen has no reason to fear the police.  If you commit crimes, however, if you try to rob a bank or rob somebody doing something with a bank, you have every reason to be scared out of your mind.  So if you are not doing anything illegal then you have absolutely nothing to worry about.  But if you are engaged in criminal activity then it will feel like a place that you don’t want to be and that’s how it should be.”

 

From an operational point of view, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says that a number of wanted persons have fled the city.  The dragnet, nonetheless, is closing in on those individuals.

 

Chester Williams

“The teams are still out looking for those persons who are still not in custody and hoping that we’ll be able to find them.  We found some yesterday in a hotel in Belama.  We found some in Cayo, so some of them have fled the city, but like I said, if they go in a sewerage we’ll flush them out, we’ll find them.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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