Last year Belize experienced an acute sugar shortage - very sad for a country that produces sugar in abundance. The subtext to the entire episode was the fact that sugar was being smuggled out of Belize to be sold at a premium in Guatemala and Mexico. It's the kind of thing where everyone knew what was up but no one could say for sure how it was happening. But a bust of contraband sugar in Guatemala has blown the whole thing open.
On Saturday, Guatemalan authorities seized a truck carrying 140 sacks of smuggled white sugar from Belize, each sack weighing 112 pounds.
According to Guatemala's Prensa Libre Newspaper, the driver of a suspicious vehicle being driven by Sarceño Victor Manuel Osorio, 22, was stopped by the National Civil Police.
When he was asked for an export policy and an invoice, he told the authorities that he didn't have one. As a result, the driver and the vehicle were taken into custody.
The Guatemalan authorities believe that the sugar was purchased in San Ignacio Cayo, Belize, to be distributed in Santa Elena and San Benito, Guatemala.
The truck and the product were taken to the court of the Precinct 62, in San Benito.
This evening 7News was able to contact Damien Goff, Marketing Manager for BSI, who told us that this is very commendable news that the Guatemalan authorities have caught a sugar smuggler.
He said that if the amount was sold here in Belize at $42 a bag, the confiscated amount is approximately worth $6,200. According to Goff, unconfirmed reports to them are that the smugglers are able to sell Belizean sugar at $75 per bag, which would fetch upwards of $9,000, a profit of almost $3,000.
He also said that due to the tracking system they have in place, they would be able to tell who this caught smuggler's supplier is, if they were able to get a sample of the confiscated product. Goff told us that this specific report will be treated seriously.
Since last year's sugar shortage, BSI has started to supply industrial consumers with sugar directly. In order for them to receive the product, these consumers are required to give a monthly report to the Sugar Industry Control Board, where they are also audited to ensure that these reports are accurate.