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Feb 18, 1998

Statistics show big jump in drug seizures

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To back up his assertion that any decertification would be for reasons unrelated to drugs, Barrow also cited statistics showing significant improvement in the quantity of drugs confiscated by police in 1997. The biggest jump was in cocaine, attributable largely to the two record busts of high powered Colombian skiffs off the Belizean coast. Where the record was less impressive–and this has always been a sore point with the Americans–was on the human side. In one major case all the suspects were freed for lack of evidence and in the other the four Colombians caught red handed were given virtual slaps on the wrist by a magistrate… and one was even freed by the chief justice on a legal technicality. Attempts to contact U.S. Ambassador Carolyn Curriel for comment were unsuccessful as she had just departed for Washington. Deputy Chief of Mission Frank Parker, however, told News Five that the evaluation process taking place in Washington has not yet been completed and he would not want to prejudge the issue. He did say that he has been pleased with the partnership between Belize and the U.S. on counter narcotics efforts. Dean Barrow also left Belize today en route to Washington for a meeting between CARICOM foreign ministers and U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

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