Knapsack of passports found in Cayo; prompts PUP protest

A knapsack containing numerous Belizean passports was found at a business establishment located on Burns Avenue San Ignacio. According tovlcsnap-2015-10-21-17h38m26s119 reports, someone accidentally left the bag at the business place and upon making checks inside the bag to verify its ownership, the workers found several passports with names of different people. The persons called the authorities in San Ignacio who have since mobilized the police. The story has caught the attention of politicians and PUP standard bearers in the Cayo Area especially and prompted a protest lead by Michel Chebat and Dan Silva, PUP standard bearers for Cayo North and Cayo Central respectively. The two PUP leaders, along with some 40 supporters, demonstrated outside of the San Ignacio Police station demanding answers from the authorities. Earlier today we spoke via phone to Michel Chebat who told us that this situation solidifies what they in the PUP have been saying all along.

Michel Chebat, PUP Standard Bearer Cayo North: Yeah there is about 40 people out here, and we’re asking the officer in charge to bring in the owner of the knapsack where the passports were found, to be questioned as to why he has so many passports and other documentations including birth certificate, social security, nationality receipts and so forth.

Reporter: What information are you guys getting right now? Why did this person have so many passports there?vlcsnap-2015-10-21-16h38m47s23

Michel Chebat, PUP Standard Bearer Cayo North: We don’t know. We are trying to find out why is it he was in possession of so many passports. That’s the whole point right? That’s the point of this matter. The police in San Ignacio are refusing to do anything. they say they are waiting for directive from Belmopan.

Reporter: So the passports belong to what one person? Or is it numerous people? 

Michel Chebat, PUP Standard Bearer Cayo North: Numerous passports belonging to different people.

Reporter: Sir does this come as a shock to you?

Michel Chebat, PUP Standard Bearer Cayo North: Well no, we have been saying, the party has been saying that nationality is being given out, that they’re gerrymandering the legislation without a registration , this is evidence of exactly that. This is undermining democracy in this country and we are up in arms against that. We have people here in Belize who no longer have the right to say who their representatives will be because these guys are registering foreigners and giving them nationality. That is clearly wrong. That is underminingvlcsnap-2015-10-21-17h38m17s28 the democracy of the country.

Reporter: Is there any proof at all that these belong to people outside the Belize border?

Michel Chebat, PUP Standard Bearer Cayo North: Yes! We have photographs of the stuff that was found there and the police definitely has information so there is proof.

Later this evening, police granted us an interview where Officer Commanding San Ignacio Police Andrew Ramirez told us more about the discovery of the bag and its contents.

Sup. Andrew Ramirez, O.C San Ignacio: The CIB team here in San Igancio had visited a location here in San Ignacio where a black bag was handed over to the police by a female person. However, prior to it being handed over to the police, it was opened in the presence of some individuals including I think Mr. Michel Chebat who is running for the People’s United Party general Election. Several items were seen including passports, police records amongst others. These items are currently in possession of the police. We had Salvadorian passport, Honduran passport, American passport and Belizean Passport.

Ramirez also said that the matter has been handed over to the Crime Investigation Branch for a thorough investigation.vlcsnap-2015-10-21-16h41m32s28

Sup. Andrew Ramirez, O.C San Ignacio: If there is any case of what we refer to as Trafficking Persons, we need to refer that matter to the Belizean Crime Unit and that has been done. Mr. Myvett, the commander of CIB has assured me that he’ll be sending an investigative team to monitor that situation. Obviously the police does not want to be put in in any kind of political allegation amongst others, hence the reason I had spoken to Mr. Chebat, and I had informed him what was the way forward in relation to police investigation. We have to perform our job objectively, and professionally, so we don’t believe that we should take instruction directive from any political avenue because we do not want to be caught up. Right now we are in high tide in relation here in San Ignacio with politics. Every situation appears to have some kind of political connotation and this more than likely is also one of them. It will not be the last, because we are going to the finishing line come time for the general election for Nov the 4th, but I just hope that better heads can prevail. Let the police do their job openly and objectively. I have no political agenda in relation to how I do my work, and I just ask that we work professionally and objectively. It was not found inside a house, it was a business establishment, and as a matter of fact, like anybody else, if you see an item that is abandoned for a certain time, you would want to know one, if it is drugs that is planted in your business establishment, is it firearms that is planted in your business establishment? I think that would have been the 1st suspicion that came to the individual. Or what worse, could it be a bomb?

We will keep following any developments in this story.

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