San Pedro Family Remanded
In response to a flare-up of violence in San Pedro which Police believe is directly connected to drug rivals warring, special units have descended on the tourism mecca. One early casualty of the crackdown is the Campos/Hernandez family which is believed to be one of the warring factions. On Wednesday, a special unit of San Pedro Police and Gang Suppression Unit personnel searched the family home, found a weapon and ammunition and arrested ten persons found there at the time. They were transported to Belize City in handcuffs via a Caye Caulker Water Taxi and were shuttled by a police van to the Central Prison in Hattieville. It’s an effective method of bringing some peace to the troubled island, at least for a time, but attorney Oscar Salgado says he won’t stand for it.
Oscar Salgado, Attorney for Campos Family
“I went out to San Pedro on Wednesday having been summoned by my clients the Campos and Hernandez family, where Broaster again descended like an angel upon San Pedro with the intent of ridding San Pedro of all its criminal element and he went to my clients’ home in which he conducted, him and his gang, conducted a search without carrying out the proper procedures. That is they did not invite my clients to accompany them at every step of the way, searching each room methodically. My clients were put outside on the verandah to wait, while the head of the household, Moses Campos, was taken inside the house and made to sit inside a room…and Broaster proceeded along with his gang to search the house, having him inside a bedroom. Inside the hall inside a child’s schoolbag was found a point two-two weapon along with ammunition, where members of the family saw the Police planting it there. These people were taken before the Magistrate on Wednesday. A person that was inside plead guilty to the offence as charged. He took responsibility for it. Yet the Magistrate in her wisdom did not see it fit to discharge the others of the allegation and release them back into the public. They adjourned the matter until the sixteenth of April. I was told that I had to speak to the Director of Public Prosecutions, which I did. And the D.P.P. has informed me today that the proper route is to go to the Police and ask the Police to withdraw the charge because one person has already pled guilty, to withdraw the charge against the others. I have spoken to the Deputy Commissioner and I am told that will not happen.”
Salgado claims that through the media, he is appealing to the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police to intercede.
Residents Allege Police Brutality
Diego Wade is another San Pedro resident who says he barely survived a meeting with the infamous Gang Suppression Unit earlier this week, and at one point thought they would kill him. Both Wade and Allen are being represented by Attorney Oscar Salgado who says that he is fed up of the constitution being flouted by police. Wade, still bearing the bruises from his encounter, spoke to us today.
Diego Wade, Alleges Police Brutality
“Monday, I just gawn da the football field da DFC gawn play some football. And after the football game, night deh set in, so when I deh look fu goh the GSU deh reach…lone masked man and only me one inna di field, so when they meet me I mi deh without shirt, and they bally just come and tell me lay down and start beat me up, yu know, noh find no gun and thing. Then they bring wah next bally weh they mi bring and beat up, so afterwards they ker me inna di bush, put gun pon me, whap up me with gun, I all bruise up with gun, all my ribs, kick up me, put bag on my head, handcuff me, bend my back, stand up pon my back, all kinda thing they do me. I mi feel like I mi wah dead, yu know, that da the way I see it cause they ker me way inna di bush, deep inna di bush, me and wah next bally and put gun inna fu we mouth and head.”
Oscar Salgado, Attorney for Wade and Allen
“In the case of Mr. Wade, Mr. Wade came before me and he showed me explicitly graphic scenes on his body where he was gun-butted in his head, on his chest where he was bruised, in his back…again all this because the Commissioner of Police sent Senior Superintendent Broaster to San Pedro to clean the island. I am all for law and order. I spent eighteen years of my life in the Belize Defence Force as an officer. When I was an officer walking with a pip on my shoulder the Commissioner was an officer cadet. He was not a commissioned officer. He was a junior officer to me. Mr. Broaster was a Corporal, and I know the modus operandi of the Police, so I know that this is the way the Police operate. I am saying this because this is the third time I have to be in front of the media in the last two months crying about the Police’s brutality and the Police modus operandi in the way they carry on operations, totally disregarding the constitutional provisions for the right and safety of the public. It is good that we deter crime, but crime has to be deterred in a civilized way.”
Salgado says that he will now take both men to the Professional Standards Branch of the police to make a formal complaint.
San Pedro Police Crackdown
As we told you earlier, there is a major crackdown underway in San Pedro Town, necessitated by violent crime which even resulted in the brutal murder of a two year old boy. Because things seem out of control, the police are fighting fire with fire, and already the complaints are pouring in. Today, Irma Mejia and her boyfriend, Dwayne Allen, visited our studios to say that they are being targeted by the police in San Pedro, and they want it to step. Both have had separate unpleasant sessions with the police.
Irma Mejia, Girlfriend of Dwayne Allen
“My boyfriend neva deh round da day deh and well they come and they come see he but he midi work with the minister da day because of elections right, and then di baby deh upstairs and I deh cook and they haul me down stairs and the stove stay on, and then the baby deh upstairs deh cry and they noh want me tend to my kid yu know. They ask me how much money I have. They actually ask me how much money I have and I tell them I noh have no money because I dah wah hard working person. I stay home, cook, tend to kids meanwhile my bwoy go work. We daw ah regular normal family. We just deh try do life.”
“But they never rough you up at all?”
“Yes, they mi tek me down and they chase me with wah broomstick. They actually tek off my broomstick and wah whap me with it because I wah go upstairs go tend to my child cause ih deh cry and they no wah let me up, so I deh try walk lef they and go tend to my child and out di stove cause the things could burn, yu know.”
Dwayne Allen, Alleges Police Brutality
“Police visited my place and he ask me weh I gat fu he. So I tell ah I no gat nothing fu you. So he tek my money out of my pocket and he start count it. and then he just hold the money too and push it inna my pocket afterwards. And then they just beat me bad. From deh soh di man ker me inna wah cart inna soh mangrove back by Coca-Cola factory. He handcuff me backway an ih siddown pon my belly. He tek my shirt and put it over my face and tek water and splash it up and suffocate me, stifle me. And from deh soh when I get up back I find di Police Officer with my money inna fu he hand again, the second time they tek out the money outta my pocket…when they midi try stifle me. So di man seh mek I ker they da my gial house. Soh I ker di man da my gial house and show he dat we noh have nothing deh, and when we reach da the house he start whap me up inna my head with wah broomstick. And then di man just gawn ih own way, dash me pon di street side and just left me deh with no charge or nothing.”