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Aug 19, 2020

Customs Says Tugboat Didn’t Declare Purpose of Trip

Colin Griffith

So to dispel any notions that Customs Officer Dion Castillo may have been negligent to give clearance to the AJ Ellis tugboat for a purpose outside of the S.O.E. regulations, this afternoon Comptroller Griffith outlined the situation. He explained what transpired and how the tugboat was cleared. According to Griffith, while the Port remained open only for trade, the operators failed to inform them that the tug was crossing the border for another purpose. While Customs is the final entity to issue clearance, Griffith says that was based on the performance of the tug for past few months. Because the vessel is a compliant trader, there was no need to justify the clearance again.


Colin Griffith, Comptroller, Customs & Excise Dept

“The situation with the AJ Ellis is that since March thirtieth of this year, during the whole period of the S.O.E., the AJ Ellis has been functioning at the Big Creek Port. It is a vessel that is owned by the Banana Enterprise. It is one o their cargo vessels. It pulls the barge and AJ Ellis has made some sixteen trips to move cargo. Customs have to classify the AJ Ellis as the compliant trader. We have never had an issue with the AJ Ellis and there is no way that officer Castillo would have known that the clearance issued on the twenty-fifth of July the intention of the AJ Ellis was to perform a private enterprise between Roatan and mainland Honduras. That information we got in speaking with principals of Banana Enterprise yesterday and they informed that customs or none of the other entities were informed that the AJ Ellis was going out not for commercial purposes in bringing back cargo to Belize. So, the customs officers and other relevant agencies acted on the performance of AJ Ellis being the compliant trader.”


Griffith told the press today that Banana Enterprise acknowledged their failure to notify the relevant authorities and also issued an apology. Griffith also dispelled any notion of tensions between the two departments maintaining that they act professionally.

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