Minister of State Juan Coy and Contraband Beer and Soft Drinks
He’s the Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation, but eleven days ago on February 28, Juan Coy was called upon to intercede in a contraband matter. 7News has confirmed with official sources who wish to remain anonymous say that on Friday February 27th, a school bus was stopped by a BDF patrol in the area of the Treetops observation post, which is near to Jalacte. The soldiers found a man whose name has only been given to us as Ruben with a significant quantity of Guatemalan beer and soft drinks.
It is BDF procedure to confiscate large movements of contraband and they did. But on Saturday, Coy who is the representative for Toledo West attempted to intercede – and called Fairweather Camp to have the five cases of Gallo liter beers, five cases of soft drinks and two cases of Squirt drink released. Still, it seems the BDF couldn’t just release it without covering themselves, so they required that Coy write a letter giving a waiver for the release of the items. And that’s just what the Minister did. Sources who have seen the signed, handwritten letter say that the letter permits the passage of the contraband beverages for, “personal use.”
We’ve been trying to get a comment from the BDF for a week. At Fairweather Camp, Major Steven Ortega directed us to the Public Relations Officer at Price Barracks Major Ganney Dortch, who directed us to the CEO in the Ministry of National Security, General Loyd Gillett who told us he had no comment. As for Junior Minister Coy, we have been unable to reach him but the CEO in the Prime Minister’s Office Audrey Wallace confirmed that he intervened for someone on a bus.
And while Wallace could not give a position, government still has to come up with an answer for a Minister of State giving a green light to the smuggling of a fair amount of contraband. To put it in context, we’ve been to Jalacte and the neighbouring Guatemalan village of Santa Cruz where the trade in contraband is constant and while there are big players, most of the farmers only bring across a few beers, groceries and soft drinks.
But 12 cases of beverages definitely qualifies as contraband smuggling – and with the official position on contraband, as undermining the local economy – seems to us, Government can hardly turn a blind eye – after all, Coy signed a letter permitting passage of that product.
We await an official response, but we also note official precedent. In November a ministerial driver was caught at a customs checkpoint with contraband liquor smuggled from the Free Zone and as a consequence, the Prime Minister ordered that he be suspended. http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=13545