Well-Known Belizeans Implicated In Major Mexican "Meth" Drug Bust
Two Belizeans are in a Mexico City jail after they were allegedly caught smuggling 100 pounds of the drug Crystal Meth in Chetumal. The two men, Milin Vasquez from Orange Walk, in the center of this picture and Hugo Cassanova from Corozal on the right of your screen - are known underworld operatives in northern Belize. But they are also businessmen: Vasquez owns the La Hacienda Steak House in Orange Walk, and Casanova has a car rental company in Carolina village.
But on Thursday evening, they weren't tending their businesses: Mexican law enforcement says they were doing drug business. They were caught in a Chetumal home along with a notorious Mexican dealer, Carlos Cabanas Catzin, known as the Monster - seen here on the left of your screen in the white shirt. The crystal meth - valued at about two million Belize dollars - is on the table in front of them, but was found in plastic bags in an icebox.
The bust was made on Thursday evening at 5:50, when marines from the Mexican Navy received launched a major operation targeting this house on Avenida Benito Juarez. The Diario Quintano Roo reports that the marines closed off two blocks, rappelled from a helicopter and entered the property. They arrested eight men, two women and confiscated three vehicles - all with Mexican plates.
The Diario quotes what it calls unofficial information which says that naval intelligence received intelligence days earlier that a load of crystal meth would be entering from Belize. ?It says that the two Belizean distributors Hugo Casanova and Ermelindo "Milin" Vasquez took the drugs to Carlos Cabañas Catzin's home. ?The newspaper adds that the Belizean dealers are linked with the Zetas Cartel and it is not the first time they have worked with Catzin's group known as Los Pelones. This could not be corroborated.
After the bust, the eight men were taken on a Navy plane to Mexico City, where they were handed over to the office of Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime.
Now, Belize law enforcement considers these two men major players - who also enjoyed, or purchased, some degree of protection from local law enforcement and in Vasquez's case, political protection - so to some extent they were mostly untouchable. In the 90's, Vasquez was the son-in-law of the then minister of police, Elito Urbina.
In the 90's both men were charged separately for serious offences: Casanova for a drug related murder in 1998 and Vasquez for landing a drug plane in Revenge Lagoon in December of 1995. They both beat the charges.
Vasquez took a high profile in 2008 - when he launched not one, but two cycling teams: Sugar City and Team Zamir. Those lavishly financed teams went unto dominate local cycling events - mostly with foreign cyclists -culminating in 2010 and 2011 when they won Cross Country Races back to back.
Now, if you are wondering what Crystal Meth is; it is a highly addictive illegal drug very popular in the United States. Psuedo-ephedrine - which caused so much commotion when its importation was illegalized in 2009 - is the key ingredient in making it. When we say commotion, we refer to a number of containers of the product, which were stolen out of Belize customs or intercepted in transit.
So what does this mean for Belize? Well, it certainly suggests that pseudo-ephedrine and its derivative crystal meth are making increasing inroads in Belize. In October, four kilos of Crystal Meth were intercepted coming in from Guatemala to Belize.
As for the accused, they will likely face Federal Charges in Mexico which are considered very serious - and they could be looking at long prison terms.