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Sep 17, 2008

…And two veteran customs officers are in custody

Story PicturePolice and customs have moved swiftly and detained two custom officers who are implicated in the missing container. Aruny Perez, a Grade two officer of ten years, and Carl Augustine, a Grade one officer of sixteen years, are in police custody. The duo was on duty when the container left the port compound and investigations reveal that forged documents were used to secure its release. Senior Customs officers became aware that something was awry when the cargo was released after normal working hours. The officers responsible for releasing cargo knocked off work at five o’clock in what can only be described as an embarrassing situation, according to Gregory Gibson, Comptroller of Customs.

Gregory Gibson, Comptroller of Customs
“It is an embarrassing situation where we have confirmation that a container was released by two customs officials using fraudulent documents out of the Port yesterday evening some time after five p.m. Initial investigations has confirmed that although no formal custom entries were prepared, customs officer Aruny Perez and custom Officer Carl Augustine forged documents, forged supervisors’ signatures and released the shipment, a forty foot container, out of the Port. Investigations have so far confirmed that the shipment was apparently consigned to Reimer’s Feed Mill but these investigations had subsequently confirmed that Reimer’s Feed Mill did not order any container. So apparently it was a bogus consignment using the name of a legitimate importer. The police have been called in and as we speak, the two officers are at the police station where they will be definitely charged. It is likely that the investigation should also result in the further arrests of other customs officers and other individuals who may be working with these customs officers to circumvent the processes and procedures that we have put in place to address what we believe is the use of the Port of Belize as a transhipment point. Investigations, we have not had the container at this time in our possession but we have reason to believe that once again it may have been ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine. We have reason to believe that these shipments are consigned to elements of the drug cartel in Mexico and so you can understand when we need to be confidential at times because officers have been threatened.”

The container was consigned to Reimer’s Feed Mill but investigations reveal that Reimer’s was not expecting any shipment. The container was released to a man by the name of Hutchinson. Surveillance cameras captured Hutchinson and police are using the video footage as a part of their investigation. The police are still looking for the loaded container but it is believed that its cargo of illegal drugs may have already made its way across the border.

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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