Illicit Trafficking 2017 in the Caribbean: Belize
During the course of 2017 the depth of the integration of Belize into the trafficking pipelines that move product and illicit immigrants into Central America and illicit products out of Central America became even more apparent.
Illicit air flights into Belize especially in the Orange Walk area were illustrated by the discovery of an intact light aircraft in March 2017 and in November 2017 the burnt remains of a light aircraft were found in a cornfield in the same area of Belize. The burning of the aircraft after the illicit load is removed is the preferred methodology of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) rather than abandoning the aircraft intact which leaves a trail to be followed. Loads of drugs continue to be flown into Belize then moved to Mexico or to other destinations. This operation takes place in Belize with a structure in place in Belize by the MTTOs to secure, traffick and protect this operation with gangland being a vital part of this structure.
The illicit products once in Belize are moved to various destinations within and external of Belize via various trafficking methodologies. In November 2016 some 22 pounds of cocaine were recovered from the occupants of a red SUV moving on the Philip Goldson international highway to Belize City. Cocaine entering Belize from the north moves toward Belize City and into its drug market for local consumption and for export. Cocaine entering Belize is now being trafficked into Mexico using trafficking methodology very similar to that used on the Mexico-USA border. Seen in the case of the SUV which crossed into Mexico from Belize at Corozal, Northern Border, Corozal District in December 2017 with some 6 kilos of cocaine in a compartment in the dashboard of the SUV. The driver of the SUV fled Mexican customs towards Belize where he crashed and fled the SUV. Cocaine entering Belize is moved into Mexico via a variety of trafficking methods which indicate the diversity of trafficking activity between Belize and Mexico, the intensity of trafficking activity on the ground and the depth of the operational presence of the MTTOs in Belize.
The diversity of the illicit trafficking enterprise in Belize in 2017 was further illustrated by the interdiction of a motor vehicle on the Philip Goldson highway in September 2017 by the Orange Walk police with illegal Guatemalan immigrants and US dollars in cash. The US cash seized consisted of USD 6,000 in the possession of a non-Guatemalan occupant of the vehicle whilst USD 10,000 was found stored in the vehicle. It is clearly apparent that the occupants of the vehicle consisted of three Guatemalans who entered Belize illicitly on their way to Mexico in their quest to cross into the USA. They then hired the services of the human smugglers to cross them into Mexico the two individuals in the vehicle were then part of the service provided by the coyotes and the cash being transported was the property of the coyote for services rendered to clients. The smuggling of persons into and from Belize to Mexico is another potent indicator of the operational presence and hegemony of MTTOs in and over the illicit trades of Belize. Belize is then an operational member of the human smuggling enterprise of the MTTOs of the Caribbean basin.
Another potent indication of the integration of Belize into transnational organised crime came in December 2017 with the report by Guatemalan media Guatevision.com that an organised crime group that purchased cigarettes in Belize, then smuggled the illicit cigarettes via the sea to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala then to El Salvador and Honduras where they were sold on the illicit cigarette markets of these three countries. This was an organised crime enterprise involving members of the Guatemalan military who provided impunity for the cigarette shipments from Belize to Guatemala and an operational presence in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The question that arises is if the cigarettes moved and sold by this organised crime group entered Belize as illicit imports of cigarettes? One news report mentioned the poor condition the cigarettes seized were in.
The existence of dual flow operational trafficking pipelines in Belize is now apparent which points to the nature and sophistication of the terrain of transnational organised crime in Belize. Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, the precursors for the manufacture of synthetic and other illicit drugs, smuggling of licit products as cigarettes, cash smuggling and human smuggling are all primary products and activities of these dual flow operational pipelines.
The leaking of the Auditor General’s audit of the issuance of Belizean visas, passports and nationality by the Government of Belize for the period 2011-2013 in 2016 and the subsequent Senate investigation placed into the public domain the complicity of politicians and agencies of the Belizean state with transnational organised crime. The impunity offered and sold via Belizean official visas passports and nationality points to the power wielded by transnational organised crime in the social order of Belize which amounts to hegemony. This hegemony over the social order of Belize enhances the ability of transnational organised crime to project its power into the social orders towards hegemony over these social orders of the member states of CARICOM. Pax Mexicana!