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Aug 6, 2020

Border Jumpers Putting Public Health at Risk

Border jumpers and contraband go together; the illegal activity continues to flourish in border communities in the north where there is an insatiable appetite for Mexican goods, with beer at the top of the list. But the practice has resulted in the increase of cases of the coronavirus and the limited number of law enforcement officers is having a hard time patrolling the borders. On Wednesday, the Commissioner of Police invited the media to the hotspots. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo was there.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Border jumpers continue to be an increasing problem, threatening the health and safety of the Belizean public. Majority of the persons infected with COVID-19 are border jumpers or have been on contact with someone who is. That number continues to increase as we saw over the weekend.

Security forces are out paroling the porous border to the north and west but compared the vast area the human resources are far too little. The officers are spread far too thin to cover the illegal border crossings, at Santa Cruz, San Victor and Douglas Village.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“We know that it is a very, very tall order because of the fact that there are several blind spots and the area is extremely huge for the officers to cover.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Is it that your officers have been given an impossible task?”

 

Chester Williams

“It is not impossible. These officers are out here and they are giving out their best and they have achieved a lot in terms of the amount of persons we have apprehended.”

 

But Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that these officers need to do more. PM Barrow on Wednesday said that law enforcement officers have failed in successfully securing the porous border.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I don’t want to be pointing fingers but n terms of that enforcement. Not only is it that our officials are not succeeding perhaps that is in any event tall order because our people are intent on breaking the law, our people are intend on going across to Mexico and Guatemala by way of these illegal crossing.”

 

Chester Williams

“The fact that we have apprehended a number of them speaks for itself. No matter what we do, you see President Trump tried to put up a forty foot wall and these sort of things to prevent illegal immigrants from going to the U.S. and they still find a way in. People will always find a way to do things if it is illegal and there’s nothing that we can do if we say tomorrow we’re going to deploy all the police and all the B.D.F. and all the coast guard along the border areas people are still going to find a way to come in, that is the reality of life.”

 

And the reality on the ground is that Belizeans are working with Mexicans.

 

Ashton Flowers

Cpl. Ashton Flowers, Mobile Interdiction Team

“Out here is a cat and mouse game. The area is very large to patrol and the police cannot be at all the places at the same time. So we win some and lose some at the end of the day. But our presence out  here is playing a role because police presence deters people but there are some that don’t listen and would want to do their own thing.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“So how do you catch the mouse because they can be very sneaky and fast?”

 

Cpl. Ashton Flowers

“Intelligence, we do have people that are willing to work with use out here and we are using our partners and other agencies such as customs, immigration to assist us in this fight. It is not something alone, everybody has to work together.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“What are some of the common contraband items?”

 

Cpl. Ashton Flowers

“Mainly beers.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Up to now?”

 

Cpl. Ashton Flowers

“Beers that they get over there and maybe some of the other villagers, grocery items.”

 

But to make the matter worse, law enforcement officers are also part of the contraband culture.

 

Cpl. Ashton Flowers

“That is one of the biggest challenges out here. The networks are very sophisticated. We do have some playing that we are looking at, persons of interest. But everything takes time to catch them doing it in the act. So we are watching. When the time is right the police will act.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


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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