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Feb 2, 2021

A Very Brief History of Police and Drug Plane Landings

It is no secret that over the years members of the Belize Police Department, at various ranks, have been accused of being involved in narco-trafficking. Whether facilitating the landing of drug planes or acting as mules transporting quantities of marijuana across the country. Several officers have been arrested and charged for their roles in illicit activities. In light of the recent arrest of three lawmen, following the landing of an aircraft on Friday morning, we revisited our archives to draw a brief picture of the connection between law enforcement and the criminal underworld.



Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The alleged involvement of corrupt police and Belize Defense Force personnel in the illicit drug trade, as facilitators of the transshipment process, is a long-existing claim that dates back to the early Aughts.  As far back as 2001, former Assistant Commissioner of Police Hugh Cain was suspended from active duty after being served a letter by then ComPol Hughington Williams.  It was asserted that Cain colluded with a well-known Mexican kingpin from the Juarez Cartel, who was later busted in Belize City with over a ton and a half of cocaine inside an apartment he was renting.  Cain was subsequently retired from the Belize Police Department amid claims that the Drug Enforcement Agency had videotapes of a meeting between himself and the Mexican fugitive.

On November 13th, 2010, a significant bust was made when members of the Belize Special Assignment Group, BSAG, were called out to the scene of an airplane that had landed on the Southern Highway near Bladen Village.  Two point six tons, the equivalent of eighty bales of cocaine, were taken into custody.  Implicated in the discovery were five persons, including Corporal Renel Grant, sergeants Lawrence Humes and Jacinto Roches, Corporal Nelson Middleton, who at the time was assigned to Governor General Sir Colville Young, as his driver, and Harold Usher, a customs boatman.  They were found in the general vicinity of where the aircraft was located.  At the time, the case against the five men was sensational because the seizure was recorded among the largest quantities of cocaine to be netted in Belize.  In December 2012, the men were subsequently acquitted of the charge of facilitating the landing of a drug plane due to a lack of evidence, before a retrial was ordered by the Court of Appeal.  By then, however, the image of the Belize Police Department had already been tarnished.

On September 9th, 2018, another major cocaine haul was recorded when a single-engine aircraft that departed from Venezuela, laden with twenty-six bales of cocaine, landed in the Tres Leguas area of Orange Walk.  The bust succeeded a forty-five minute shootout between law enforcement officers and the drug runners.


Allen Whylie

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police [File: September 11th, 2018]

“Since the latter part of last year, as you are all aware, we had seen an increased level of activity in terms of illicit aircrafts trafficking through Belize’s airspace.  We have also seen where we [have] in the past recovered a plane and we’ve found at various scenes wreckages that have been burnt.”


It is reminiscent of Friday’s discovery where the charred remains of an aircraft was found along with its contents intact not far away.  In the wake of that landing back in 2018, Superintendent David Chi, the officer commanding Orange Walk Police Station at the time, and Police Constable Norman Anthony were arrested and charged for their purported roles in facilitating the landing of that aircraft.

Going back to the wee early hours of Friday morning, in a remote area between Lemonal and Crooked Tree Village, a team of off-duty police and BDF officers was in the vicinity when another drug plane landed.  They were found in possession of two bales of cocaine inside a vessel in a nearby lagoon.  Commissioner of Police Chester Williams shared his thoughts on their arrest.


Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“It makes me feel good to know that we are catching them and hopefully the rest who are involved will get the message because if they don’t then they will just suffer the same fate as these ones and the ones before.”


Chester Williams


“Any internal investigation you’re going to conduct in case the men were working with someone or others in the department?”


Chester Williams

“Of course, yes, the Professional Standards Branch is here already, Mr. Sutherland, and he will be doing the internal aspect of the investigation.  We are going to be applying for court orders to go through the phones of these individuals to see what we can gather from their phones to see who they communicated with and whatever we get will be used as evidence either in the criminal or in the disciplinary matter against them.”


In the most recent case, while the men were not found in possession of all the illicit cargo that was onboard the aircraft, Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa, himself an attorney, believes that the rogue cops and soldier will be convicted.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“Previously, while we had our suspicions and we gathered evidence and I am talking under the last administration in relation to drug plane landings, it was never so clear-cut.  It might be that you found an officer in a particular area and they were saying that they were fishing and they had their fishing lines to prove it and no drugs were found on them, and so it depends on a case by case basis.  But I fully agree with you that in this particular case we should see convictions because in this case the drugs were found in the possession.  It’s very rare that you actually get a bust like that.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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