The Northern Enforcement Unit of the Be lize Customs Department seized about $36,000 worth of contraband beer and whiskey when they stopped two vans in a joint operation conducted with Orange Walk Police around 4:00 Wednesday morning February 23rd, 2011.
The vans, a Ford 350 passenger van and a Club Wagon, were found to contain 277 cases of Miller Genuine Draft, Coors Lite and Heineken beer, and two cases of Johnny Walker Black Label whiskey, purchased in the Corozal Free Zone.
Under Belize’s Customs law, anyone caught attempting to evade paying Customs duties shall be liable to pay a fine of triple the value of the contraband goods, which in this case would be over $108,000.00
Those charged for possession of the contraband cargo might have been the drivers of the two vans, but law officers have been unable to catch up with these two gentlemen, who high-tailed it for the trees as soon as their vans screeched to a halt after the Customs officers shot out their tires.
Statutory Instrument #44 of 2005 allows for the Customs Department to charge the registered owner of the vans which, Customs and Police investiga tions have confirmed, were rented from a Belize City based rental and tour company.
The Reporter has learned that Police and Customs are presently seeking the individual who rented the two vans, telling the rental company that the vans would have been used to run tourists to Chetumal.
A police patrol first observed the two suspicious vans travelling from Corozal in an easterly direc tion, and relayed this information to the Orange Walk Police who, along with Customs officers, set up a road block to intercept the two vehicles near the first roundabout in Orange Walk Town.
The officers manning the road block first saw a Jeep Cherokee, which appeared to be a scout vehicle sent ahead to determine if the road was clear for the vans to continue on their journey. But the smugglers’ luck ran out and they ran straight into the road block. The Police used one of their pickup trucks to block the highway.
The contraband liquor was destined to be sold at a reggae concert in San Pedro, but now a source close to the investigation has informed The Re porter that the liquor will be destroyed.