In March 19th earlier this year, 18 young men joined the ranks of the Friends for conservation’s park rangers. Since their numbers have increased by 3, the FCD park rangers are able to cover more ground in the Chiquibol Forest and have even made their first arrest since graduating from an intense course in wilderness patrol and surveillance, protected areas law enforcement and special constable training. In an interview yesterday the Director of FCD, Raphael Manzanero, on Sunday evening, while conducting one of their regular patrols, the park rangers came across two Guatemalans who had entered Belize illegally and were unlawfully cultivating Xate.
“Ever since the graduation of the rangers, we have been able now to send them out in greater and more remote areas of the Chiquibol. We have been able to monitor, much more closely, the activities. We have been sending them out for multiply-days activities and patrols. There were actually two Guatemalans that were observed. One of them were able to escape, one of them was detained. He was brought out last night around ten o’clock. He was doing Xatero activity, so he had with him leaves. Apparently, the leaves would be extracted out and sold in Santa Elena, in Peten. There is one of the other intermediates that area. More than likely, Melchor de Mencos have some of the areas where people would buy the Xate and teke them up to Guatemala City. From there it is exported out of Guatemala. The person was brought out. More than likely he will be charged for illegal entry and then the police department would lay a charge for the extraction of the Xate without a permit. those more than likely will be the two charges. The area that he was caught is a little more south of the Caracol Complex. We are still not certain what type of tracks they are using in terms of the trails but what we know is that they come out of La Aurora . We know that the root of the settlement that they come from is from that village.”
32 year old Jose Perez, Guatemalan farmer, was arrested and charged for illegal entry and was fined $1,000 for immigration offences. He was remanded to prison until his next court date when he is to answer to the charge of unlawful cultivation of Xate.