Mexican Ambassador discusses trans border crimes

Trans-border crime was a major topic at yesterday’s press lunch held by the Mexican Ambassador, H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez at the vlcsnap-2016-01-22-13h27m15s066Mexican Institute in Belize City. One area of headache for Mexican authorities is the issue of contraband cigarettes. PlusNews has reported on multiple stories where Mexican authorities have intercepted millions of illegal cigarettes that have come directly from the Belize Northern Free Zone. These cigarettes that are imported into Belize are done in volumes apparently not only for the Belize market. Most end up at the free zone; from there many cigarettes are then smuggled out to other Central American countries. According to the Mexican Ambassador, Mexico has repeatedly informed the Belize government about the issue which needs to state vlcsnap-2016-01-22-13h26m34s291regulated. 

Carlos Quesnel Melendez, Mexican Ambassador to Belize

“We are very concerned on this issue. This has been brought to the official discussions between both countries. I can tell you this is one of the main concerns of our people, the authorities based in Chetumal. We are doing all of our efforts to combat, to fight this smuggling of cigarettes.”

“Even if we are fighting very seriously this phenomenon because we don’t want these kinds o cigarettes in México and Central America, but I think the best way to combat it, to fight the smuggling of cigarettes is having a free trade agreement that allows not only cigarettes, but many other products to be traded openly and not through contraband which affects the economy of the countries of the area.”

And what about illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine? It was just  5 days into the new year when Orange Walk Police made a huge bust of over 183 pounds of cannabis in 9 parcels with a street value of 300 thousand Belize dollars. Each of the packages had the letter “J” marked on it. When asked if the source of the marijuana, based on the markings, could signify that the drugs came from a cartel in Mexico, Ambassador Melendez responded that the marijuana was not from Mexico. 

Carlos Quesnel Melendez, Mexican Ambassador to Belize
“I can tell you that I just came back last week from Mexico and I heard an opinion from an expert about the package that you are mentioning on marijuana. And I was told that this is not a typical package by a Mexican cartel because of the circumstance, the package, the different characteristics of the stuff. But we know and we are aware that there is a problem in both countries, a common problem that we face…marijuana and other illegal substances and material and goods. And what I can tell you is that yes, we do share intelligence; we do share information. We have institutionalized mechanism to share information with intelligence agencies of both countries and we have periodic meetings between the agencies of Belize and the agencies of Mexico. By the way, we will have the first one next month, in February. And that’s one of the main objectives to share information and to try to combat these illegal activities. We are certainly worried about this phenomenon at the border. We would like to see less smuggling of drugs in both directions. But I can assure you that we are working together with Belizean authorities in a very positive way and we will continue doing so.”

A joint meeting between Counter-narcotics officials in Belize and Mexico is expected to be held in Februaryvlcsnap-2016-01-22-13h27m23s552. Such collaborative sharing of information could help to reduce crime on both sides of the border.  On the 5th  of August last year, Police say,  while conducting anti drugoperations, they discovered an abandoned Bell Helicopter on a feeder road in Blue Creek, Orange Walk. The helicopter was reported as circling San Felipe/Blue Creek Area and when authorities proceeded to the area, they found a grey helicopter with dark tinted windows. The aircraft had registration numbers N607AZ inscribed on its side. As the Blue Creek community is very close to the Mexican border, many speculated that the pilot and or the passengers were either from Mexico or may have fled there.

Carlos Quesnel Melendez, Mexican Ambassador to Belize

“We have just, received some reports, unofficial reports that, ah, the registered, or this helicopter, was registered in the U, so it’s not a Mexican number and it’s not registered under Mexican law.”

The helicopter was confiscated by the BDF and by the same weekend, ranking military officials announced that it would form part of their fleet.

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