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#519385 - 11/30/16 06:09 AM All The Signs of Drug Smuggling, But No Plane, No Drugs
Marty Offline
Tonight, Hattieville Police are holding 16 drums of aviation fuel, and other items which they believe were used to illegally land a plane in Western Belize. And while the cops can't say for sure that a drug cargo was involved, those with experience in the area are certain that this was a drug plane which landed in an area located about 9 miles into the Coastal Road.

The cops got the information early this morning before dawn that there was a low-flying aircraft near the Coastal Road. Hattieville Police responded, and they didn't find a plane, but they did come upon 20 drums - 4 of which were empty, and 16 filled with aviation fuel. They canvassed the area and found makeshift landing lights, 4 batteries, and canvases. This area was being used as a clandestine airstrip for this plane, and police found tracks of what looks like the wheels of the landing gear belonging to a plane. They also found the seats form a plane dashed into the bush, to make more room for cargo.

This evening, the Rural Eastern Division's Police Commander gave a press briefing of what they've been able to piece together so far:

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"Early this morning we received information of a low flying aircraft in the area of the coastal road where the Hattieville police was dispatched. About 6 miles off the George Price Highway and another 3 miles on the feeder road they came upon a clandestine airstrip where they discovered some drums of aviation fuel. By 7am this morning we dispatch the anti-narcotic unit as well as the mobile interdiction unit team and some BDF to the area where they discovered 20 drums of aviation fuel along with ladder, electrical wire and lights that were used for the lighting of the airstrip along with 4 batteries and some plane seats."

"From the initial investigation it appears that a plane landed and they took out the seats we believe to make provisions for whatever cargo they were transporting. Because the seats were taken out the plane, we believe they picked up cargo at that location."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Is there anything to suggest what kind of illicit cargo it could be?"

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"We have no clue as to what kind of illicit cargo that was."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Do you all believe it was an international outfit, or something local or a collaboration of two?"

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"We don't have any idea at this time whether it's local or foreign peddlers."

"Do you believe that the response of the relevant agencies including the police department was timely enough based on when you received that information?"

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"We believe that the response was timely enough given that the exact location of where the aircraft would have landed was not available to us."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"For those international looking on and who may look at this incident and say that we are inadequate in able to respond to something like this and that maybe Belize fumble the ball in trying to catch these traffickers. How do you respond?"

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"Well there is nothing to say that we fumble the ball. This is a problem that persists throughout the region. It's not just Belize. There are a lot of illicit landing in Guatemala, Honduras - all around us and it's just a challenge for our law enforcement to garner intelligence as to exactly where the next plane would be touching down and that's something that is very difficult. Unless you are deep undercover in the ring, you would not be able to get that information or somebody slip up and we get information as to where the plane would be landing."

"Can you speak to us on any step up activity on the part of the police department or the BDF to patrol this general area?"

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"Well I know that the area where the stuff was found was once bound to make craters in the clandestine airstrip. But obviously it was repaired to be reused."

"The question was have you made any effort to increase patrols in the area, increase the presence?"

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"Well because of the resources that we have, will be able to make frequent patrols in that particular area. Like I said, the airstrip was destroyed I believe once. And obviously those who are bent on doing illicit activity made an effort to repair it and those can be repaired in a day."

We note that back in 2011, a plane crashed in an area behind the Zoo, not far from La Democracia, and the impact killed two Colombians. The sight of that crash landing is only a few miles from where police found this clandestine airstrip. As for this airstrip, those in the area tell us that the airstrip was first carved out about three years ago.

Channel 7

#519446 - 12/02/16 06:08 AM Re: All The Signs of Drug Smuggling, But No Plane, No Drugs [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

COMPOL Says No Proof That There Was A Landing On Clandestine Airstrip

Earlier this week we told you about the illicit airstrip that police found near mile nine on the Coastal Highway in the Belize District. That was Tuesday morning when a plane was heard circling low in the Belize District. When police got there, they found no plane and no drugs, just 20 drums - 16 filled with aviation fuel, while four were empty. They also came upon, makeshift landing lights, 4 batteries, canvases, and the discarded seats from an airplane. These were most likely removed to make way for a drug cargo.

It suggests what is well known to those in law enforcement circles: that Belize continues to be used as a transshipment point for drugs. But, is there any police intelligence on how often illicit landings go undetected, or how many of the clandestine airstrips exist? Well, we're way ahead of the commissioner on this one: he says there's no evidence that a plane landed there:

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police
"Again, I did get a briefing in terms of the containers and the fuel and the other things that have been found. We have no information at this time to indicate that a plane had landed. It could have been things that were prepared for a landing or may have been there from some time ago. That matter is still under investigation and as I said I don't really have much more information on that."

Those who frequent the area tell us that the airstrip was first spotted about three years ago. It was reported to authorities, but nothing was done.

Channel 7


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