42 year old Alfredo Orlando Gonzalez Marcos and his common-law wife, 46 year old Marleni Elizabeth Castellanos, reversed their pleas to not guilty on appearing in court today, Friday, for what was to have been their sentencing.
However, their troubles are only just beginning, as Immigration authorities have identified them as the center of a ring of Immigration document fraud – charging up to $2,000 to obtain Belizean passports, nationality certificates, birth certificates and other attendant documents using the identities of dead or incapacitated Belizeans.
Marleni Castellanos has been additionally charged with sixteen counts of aiding a person to use a document to which they were not entitled. She pleaded not guilty to these additional charges.
We are told that authorities rounded up as many as eleven Guatemalan nationals living on Caye Caulker earlier this week with falsely obtained Belizean documents.
Eight of those were formally arraigned before Magistrate Dale Cayetano. The eight – 24 year old Cruz Reyes; 26 year old Teresa Juarez; 45 year old Abis Gonzalez Godoy; 48 year old Floridalma Juarez; 21 year old Francisco Ruiz; Myrna Ortega, age unknown; Juan Carlos Castellanos and Francisco Reyes – all pleaded guilty to two counts each of using a certificate which they were not entitled to use, respectively birth and nationality certificates. Juan Carlos Castellanos was additionally charged with a third count in relation to a Belizean passport.
Magistrate Dale Cayetano handed out fines of $1,000 for each offense, for a total of $17,000, all of which were paid. Ruiz and Ortega are represented by Bryan Neal, while the others are undefended.
Immigration authorities say the group are expected to testify against Castellanos regarding their role in the ring. Marleni Castellanos and Alfredo Gonzalez Marcos were further remanded untilAugust 14, 2014.
They had initially pleaded guilty to ten counts of falsely using the documents they had obtained, ranging from birth certificates to a voters’ identification card, to stay in Belize. Their three children are born Belizeans.