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#506512 - 08/08/15 10:54 AM Mystery Helicopter Found At BZE/MEX Border
Marty Offline

Was Chapo In That Chopper?

Two days ago, the Anti Drug Unit found a helicopter - in perfect working condition - abandoned near the Belize-Mexico border. It was kept a closely guarded secret for 48 hours while the police and BDF carefully scrutinized the chopper. Here's what they found: a grey BELL-407 Helicopter with tinted windows, bearing the registration numbers N607AZ, on a feeder road near Blue Creek Village in the extreme northwestern Orange Walk District. The chopper was found in a clearing. Interestingly, it had been outfitted to make long journeys. And inside the aircraft, police found several blue plastic containers with fuel. More interestingly, the chopper is fully functional. A BDF pilot trained to fly helicopters checked it out and today at midday, flew it from Blue Creek to BDF Headquarters at Price Barracks where it is parked tonight. Here's what the BDF's Commander told us this morning:

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of National Security
"You may or may not have been aware that as few days ago the BDF also captured a Bell 407 helicopter which will now bring our number to three once we get the two from the Taiwanese government in November."

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - Belize Defence Force
"I won't be at liberty to give you much information on that Bell helicopter. That was a police operation. After the aircraft was probably captured I believe in the Blue Creek area, our Belize Defence Force pilots were requested to fly the helicopter into to our area."

Daniel Ortiz
"When did it happen?"

Brig. Gen. David Jones
"That happened sometime about 3pm in the afternoon and then I was called later on and requested if our pilots can fly it. It's a Bell 407 helicopter and our pilots were able to fly it, so they went to Blue Creek and the aircraft is now sitting at our air wing."

Reporter
"Where did this helicopter originate?"

Brig. Gen. David Jones
"We are not clear on that. We've tried to find information in regards on the tail number that's on it. We've check with our partners in Mexico. We've also check with our partners all the way in Colombia and they cannot ascertain who really owns that helicopter. What they informed us on it is that the tail numbers on it may be misleading as to who owns it. So, it's not ascertained at the moment who owns the helicopter. The fact is that we have the helicopter now in custody and its over at our air wing."

Daniel Ortiz
"Can you talk to us about the technical aspects of the helicopter? What is it capable of doing and how does it help the BDF?"

Brig. Gen. David Jones
"It's a Bell 407 helicopter. It's the same helicopter that our pilots are trained to fly. So they can competent fly it. It can carry about 4-5 passengers in it. I can't say yes, it's going to be for the government of Belize yes, because it's an ongoing investigation. Someone may come to claim it. It's unlikely, but if there is a possibility, someone may come and claim it."

Reporter
"Do you think it was used for an illegal activity?"

Brig. Gen. David Jones
"That's the strong belief that we have at the moment. The fact that it had a fuel pump apart from the tank that holds the fuel. There was a pump inside the helicopter itself that when the main tank runs out, there were extra fuel inside the main cabin to pump fuel back into the tank. Based on that we suspect (we cannot say for sure) it was used for illegal activities."

Police say that on Wednesday the Anti Drug Unit acted on information of an aircraft circling San Felipe/ Blue creek area and went looking - only to stumble upon the chopper at around 3:00 pm. Police searched the area but found nothing. Inside, there was no evidence that drugs had been on board. Police say, quote, "Due to the close proximity with the Belize/ Mexico border it is believed that pilot and/or passengers may have fled into Mexico." But, the thing is, no on really knows - they could have been coming into Belize. And - even used - one of those choppers costs around 2 million US dollars - so, the question is, who would leave 4 million Belize dollars lying around. Police don't have any answers - but there's lots of speculation which says that it could have been the Mexican fugitive Joaquin El Chapo Guzman in the chopper. He is the most wanted man in the western hemisphere right now - and is evading Mexican and US authorities. NOW, WE STRESS, there is absolutely no evidence suggesting that it is him - but clearly the helicopter was used for an illicit mission, to transport passengers and not drugs, and it was staged for maximum proximity to the Belize Mexico border. We checked, and no flight plan was logged with Belize Civil aviation authorities - which is standard with illicit aircraft missions.

Of note are two useful historical references. About 8 years ago a chopper was found destroyed in Southern Belize - that is believed to have been used for moving drugs. And then in 2011, a six-seater piper aircraft was found on a sugar road behind Guinea Grass Village. The plane with a Mexican flag had slipped off the road and crashed and was obviously making a secret landing. But all the leather seats were inside - suggesting that it was used to transport persons, not drugs.

Channel 7


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#506663 - 08/14/15 10:39 AM Re: Mystery Helicopter Found At BZE/MEX Border [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Helicopter Likely to Be Claimed By Belize

As we told you last week Friday, the Government of Belize is holding unto a Bell 407 helicopter, which was found in the Blue Creek area last Wednesday. The chopper was found close to the Belize-Mexico border and the BDF flew it to Price Barracks where it remains tonight. So, what will the Ministry of National security do with it? That’s what we asked the minister today:

Jules Vasquez

"What is the status of the case? And what's the plan to use the helicopter?"

Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security

"The case is still under investigation. We don't have any leads at this time. The helicopter as far as we are concerned was abandoned by who so ever left it there. And therefore there's a time for them to claim or come forward and after that then it's considered as abandoned property; will become the property of the government of Belize, an asset of the Belize Defence Force."

Jules Vasquez

"Will we be able to operationalize it, to use it?"

Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security

"Well I am sure you know by now that when it was moved from Blue Creek to the BDF camp it was flown by BDF pilots. So we know that though they haven't had training in that particular asset; that they're training in helicopter and in flying allowed them to move the helicopter from there to the BDF camp. With some more training I'm sure they'll be expert at flying."

Jules Vasquez

"Now, I know that you certainly don't want narcos moving in and around the country. But is this in a way a serendipitous windfall? That they abandoned; a helicopter like that cost at least one and a half million US if not more."

Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security

"As I have said, we don't have any leads at this time as to what may have caused the helicopter to be landed there. So we can't surmise, we can't assume; we can just be happy that it did and that no one has come forward and within the appropriate time it will be declared abandoned and become the property of the BDF."

Saldivar completely dismissed any suggestions that the chopper may have used to transport Mexican fugitive, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Ministry officials loosely estimate that the chopper is valued at one million US dollars. A full assessment of its air worthiness has not been completed.

Channel 7


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