Belize Drug Problem?

Belize continues to get the lowest rating in its efforts to combat drugs even though it is getting support, training  and financing from the US Government. In the newly released International Narcotics Control Strategy Report prepared by the Department of State for a Presidential report to Congress, Belize is again identified as a transit country for illicit drugs destined for the United States. The Belize report starts out by informing the US Congress that “..the Belizean national legislature decriminalized personal possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana on November 2, though it remains a crime to cultivate or sell the drug.” , but it adds that Limited funds, unreliable equipment, and limited human resources hampers the capacity of the Belize Coast Guard and the police Anti-Narcotics Unit from monitoring coastal waters and that  ” Belize’s drug control efforts are hampered by the same challenges faced by the rest of the country’s security sector – corruption, insufficient investigative capacity, an ineffective judicial sector, and a lack of political will.” The BCG and BPD receive U.S. assistance in the form of training and equipment, but are unable to routinely utilize assets due to insufficient resources for fuel and maintenance. As a result Belizean security organizations have minimal success in limiting this criminal activity. Additionally, the Financial Intelligence Unit, which was developed and trained to track the proceeds of Drugs and combat money laundering activities,  expanded staffing, training, and interagency cooperation, but did not prosecute a single case in 2017. Belize continues to be used as a transshipment point for both illicit drugs or precursor chemicals,. Belize is the only Country in CARICOM that has been identified as a major source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics. In the first nine months of 2017 Belize seized only 58.17 kg of cocaine, and 420 grams of crack cocaine. In comparison, Jamaican authorities seized over 657 kilograms (kg) of cocaine in the same period of time. That’s more than 10 times the amount seized in Belize. In 2012, the United States assisted Belize in establishing the Mobile Interdiction Team (MIT) with 13 Immigration Officers and Police officers. MIT is an interagency border security unit focused on interdicting illicit drugs and other contraband trafficked within and across the country’s ports of entry. However, the report states that  “while the MIT grew to 43 members in 2017, and MIT members are often detailed to other police units, leaving far less than the full 43 officers actually working border security at any given time.” In other words, though trained, the men were unavailable to carry out their jobs.  The report ends by saying that “The United States encourages Belize to strengthen its public security and law enforcement institutions through more effective anti-corruption legislation, comprehensive background checks and vetting of new and existing personnel, enhanced training, and continuing education programs.

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