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Jul 9, 2021

Contraband Produce Intercepted in Orange Walk

Today, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority confirmed to News Five that there has indeed been a flood of contraband produce on the market, and not just onions.  Earlier today, a team of BAHA and Customs officials seized two separate shipments in two trucks at illegal border crossings in Orange Walk.  The trucks were carrying illegal produce, including more than eight hundred pounds of onions, almost three hundred pounds of carrots; three hundred pounds of tomatoes; several sacks of cabbage, and other products including flour, tajin, Cheeze Whiz and an assortment of other items.  Margarito Garcia of BAHA says that the joint unit has been working to intercept illegally imported agricultural products because it poses many risks and is bad for the economy.


On the Phone: Margarito Garcia, Technical Director of Quarantine Department, BAHA

“Almost every day, especially in the Orange Walk District we intercept contraband. Onions is almost on a daily basis. Today, two amounts of onions were intercepted and confiscated by the northern group comprised of Customs and BAHA. The intercepted two shipments with assorted contraband goods; carrots, onions, tomatoes, potatoes; and this is happening on a daily basis and it is continuous that it affects the marketing of our other local onions or produce. And this happens even on the buses that travel to Belize. We try to intercept some of them and if we try to intercept five percent that is a lot of the contraband that is happening and it is being distributed countrywide. It affects the local producers because they can’t market their products and the other thing is that it poses a threat with any pests of disease that might come in through these products.”


Andrea Polanco

“As it relates to some of these agricultural produce, why do you think it has been tough to crack down on say the onions, for example?”


On the Phone: Margarito Garcia

“Since the local production started in early January no permits were issued and so what items are out there in the market that is not locally produced is contraband. We have challenges yes because it is difficult sometimes to identify which one is contraband from which is local. So, we have a procedure in place if we find onion that is mixed we have authority to confiscate because that would be cross contamination. But it is a challenge and the best thing is to intercept it when it is coming in but the resources is the problem as well.”

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