Cops Charge 4 of the Drug Plane 6 in Major Coastal Road Bust
On Monday's newscast, we told you about that big drug bust that police made on Sunday just after midnight. They managed to intercept 6 foreigners who landed an illegal aircraft in an area located off the Coastal Road, at mile 7. That plane was carrying 41 bails of cocaine.
We know a little more about the incident tonight, which we'll share with you, but first, we take you to the Belize City Magistrate's Court this afternoon. That's where 69-year-old Mexican Miguel Cruz Meseguer; the Ecuadoran, 43-year-old Juan Pablo Larrea Cruz; and Hondurans, 51-year-old Carlos Humberto Henriquez Gomez, and 30-year-old David Noe Orellana Discua were all arraigned this afternoon.
These 4 were taken before Senior Magistrate Tricia Pitts-Anderson, they were all jointly read the charge of drug trafficking. Police say that they tried to smuggle just over 1,341 kilograms - or almost 3,000 pounds - of cocaine into Belize. Miguel Meseguer and Juan Cruz, who were the pilot and co-pilot of the illegally landed King Air 200 Beachcraft, were also charged jointly with the offenses of abetment to the importation of a controlled drug, and landing an aircraft without the permission of the Minister of Aviation.
As we told you, it was a well-planned, well-coordinated effort by the Belizean joint law enforcement teams consisting of members from the different security forces. They acted on intelligence on Sunday Night that an aircraft had left Venezuela, and that it was most likely heading to Belize. Just after midnight, the joint law enforcement team that was dispatched on the Coastal Road spotted the aircraft flying low. They waited for the plane to be properly landed, and the engine turned off. The Belizean lawmen then pounced on the traffickers before they realized what was happening. However, they didn't simply surrender; they fired gunshots at the enforcement team members, who were forced to return fire. Though several of the drug smugglers were injured, the Belizean authorities were able to detain everyone. They then escorted the huge quantity of drugs, the occupants of the plane, and the aircraft itself from the landing zone.
It's a big win for law enforcement who have been continuously criticized for arriving after the fact only to find a destroyed plane, no drugs, and no traffickers. The media spoke to Police Commissioner Chester Williams earlier this evening about this latest development in the case.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"Police arrested and charged 4 persons and 2 more will be charged later on. they have not yet been charged, because they are hospitalized, but as soon as they are released from the hospital they will be charged and the persons charged are, we have Carlos Cruz. He is a Mexican and Juan Cruz, Ecuadoran. Both were the pilot of the plane so those two were charged with importation of controlled substance which is cocaine. We have four persons who will be charged for possession or trafficking for the drugs as well as for abetment to import cocaine into the country. The total weight of the cocaine seized was one thousand three hundred and forty one kilograms. So thats the update where that is concerned."
"Do we know if these persons entered the country via the international airport or other way?"
"They came in through the border."
"Will anything be done about the property that was used to basically create an illegal landing area?"
"I don't know what property you are talking about."
"The airstrip. Was that the landing in an area in a farm behind Democracia?"
"Its a private property, but there is no nexus between the owner of the property and the landing of the plane, so there is nothing we will be able to do with the owner of that property."
"Will any destruction of the airstrip be done?"
"It is a private property. One can say that the road was created not for an airstrip and someone just use it to land a plane illegally."
The other 2 detained Honduran men, 31-year-old Allan Yovani Mejia Chirinos and 50-year-old Norlan Jose Carrasco Lopez will be arraigned on drug trafficking as soon as they are well enough to leave the hospital.