An anti-narcotic operation at Ambergris Caye led to a shootout between personnel from the Belize National Coast Guard and suspected drug peddlers. The incident occurred on Saturday morning, 1 mile south of the Belize/Mexico border at the Bacalar Chico area of northern Ambergris Caye. On Monday afternoon, we spoke with Vice Commandant, Commander Elton Bennet, who told us what transpired.
Commander Elton Bennett- Vice Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard
“The patrol reportedly came under contact sometime around 7:30 on the morning of 16th November. They were approaching the old fisheries station on the eastern side of Ambergris Caye. As the patrol sighted five men in the area and upon approaching the fisheries station, one of the men opened fire on the Coast Guard patrol. The patrol returned fire, and in doing so, two of the three men got away during the firefight and one of the men got wounded. We took that person to the San Pedro polyclinic”.
Authorities believe they broke up what could have been major drug trans-shipment.
Commander Elton Bennett: “We found a small amount of marihuana in the area, but the information that we received that we were acting on was that a major narcotic operation was happening in that area of Ambergris Caye. It was an intelligence operation and we believe that we destructed what could have been a major drug trans-shipment”.
We understand that three of the five men are presently in Police custody, pending charges. Meanwhile, Plus News received information that there was also an unpleasant encounter between the unit and a Senior Reporter Jorge Aldana of the San Pedro Sun Newspaper. We also queried the Commander on those reports.
Commander Elton Bennett: “When we transported the wounded person to the San Pedro polyclinic, there was one media person who was insisting to get close enough for him to do his job, and we informed him that he cannot take photographs or take videos of the persons that were on the patrol. The media person continued to do so, and, as a result, we halted him, we took away his camera, we took away his phone and we deleted the pictures that had close up photographs of the men from the Coast Guard that were on the patrol. We believe we’ve justified in doing so; we believe that his act could easily compromised the safety and security of those individuals on the patrol”.
Commander Elton Bennett: “We are apparently investigating, we are in dialogue with this media house this morning and we have exchanged information but so far, the internal investigation that we are doing has revealed that there is no such allegation or that there is no such truth to such physical contact or physical abuse on our side.
The San Pedro Sun newspaper issued a statement referring to the incident involving Mr. Aldana as a case of “unnecessary force.” The Belize Coast Guard, the San Pedro Police and the news outlet are investigating the incident. The San Pedro Sun along with Mr. Aldana are reserving further comments until all parties involved have properly conducted their investigations.