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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Last night we told you about the Coast Guard's impressive drug find: a bail with 104 pounds of cocaine.

It was found near the Turneffe Attoll - and has a local street value of about a million dollars - but an official traducing value of at least four times that value.

The package was handed over to police yesterday afternoon - and they tested and confirmed that it is cocaine. The find comes just as the COAST Guard received another donation form the US Government. This one is to be shared with the BDF and is valued at over 4 million US dollars.

We got a look at some of the high tech new toys at the Commissioning today - and Jules Vasquez has the report:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
The Coast Guard was on full display today both men, women and machines - as these Boston Whalers roared past the launch - giving everyone a small scare.

But, it was in order, after all, it's not every day that a three star general of the US Army and Southcom comes bearing gifts - from the CARSI initiative.

Vinai Thummalapally - US Ambassador to Belize
"The Belize coast guard will receive 2 Boston Whalers, 37 foot justice patrol boats, 2 Ford F-40 trucks and a variety of items such as night vision goggles, body armor, ballistic helmets and so on. The Belize Defense Force will receive among other items; 1 Ford F-40 - 440 truck, 9 ranger all-terrain vehicles, 2 jet pulpultion river boats and 7 jeep J-7 tactical mobility vehicle vehicles."

There was champagne to ceremonially launch the new Boston Whalers - even if it took more than a few strikes to get it right.

General Douglas Fraser, Commander US Southcom
"This afternoon ceremony reflects the important spirit of friendship, collaboration and partnership our nations enjoy. We have a long history of working together to build capabilities, and address shared concerns."

But how many of those concerns are really US security issues superimposed on Belize?

Jules Vasquez
"Are we under obligation to act on their behalf?"

George Lovell - CEO - Min. Nat. Sec.
"None at all Jules. What happen is drug is something that majority of it is taken to the United States. It is something that is causing the instability that we are currently experiencing in this country and we must face that. As you note recently we had a number of incidents on our seas where some of our locals were rob. We had the incidents where we had the unfortunate incident of Belizeans being killed up in northern San Pedro. There was a shooting that recently took place in that same location just yesterday our coast guards came up with one bail of suspected cocaine that they discovered off he atolls. There have been repeated reports coming into our offices suggesting that there is an increase of drugs activities along ur borders."

And while there are now resources to better patrol those seas - the fact is just keeping them running is a concern - these burn about two gallon of premium fuel per mile at patrol speed and when they are in pursuit that goes up to four gallons per mile. So keeping up the vigilance is an expensive proposition - and Lovell says pooling of resources is the key.

George Lovell - CEO - Min. Nat. Sec.
"For us to put a strategic plan speaks to a joint and combine effort where we can pool our resources and maximize from the scarce resources that we have and the limited resources that this country has in the time that we have shrinking budgets."

Shrinking budgets but a growing number of threats - and today the BDF, Police and Coast Guard were receiving training from US instructors in how to board a vessel and make an arrest - while the media was taken for a white knuckle ride in the Defender Class Boats that demonstrated the power and maneuverability of these specialized vessels.

A nimble fleet and a nimble force, with specialized equipment - coming off a major multimillion dollar drug seizure yesterday. Tomorrow, we'll tell you how the will use its share of the donation.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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BDF Has A New Strategy

Last night, we told you about the 4 million US Dollar donation that the US Government made to the US Coast Guard and the BDF. You saw most of the stuff that the Coast Guard got, but the BDF's full donation is not in yet.

That includes all terrain vehicles, jet propulsion river boats and specialized tactical mobility vehicles.

Commander of the BDF General Dario Tapia explained how they will be deployed to fit into a larger strategy:..

General Dario Tapia, Commander of the BDF
"These equipments came for bigger strategy which eventually will come on line. When I say eventually, there are many things going on behind the scenes. There will be some additional operating base in northern Belize, so the ATVs that are here will be deployed to those operating bases."

"The jet propulsion vessels will be used to do patrols. Three things that we always say for the BDF to be able to survive and be professional is its ability to move, shoot and communicate."

"Today in our nation we have the ability to move both on rivers and on land. So it will help us greatly. One of the major issues we have is our aging vehicle fleet; we always welcome new donations to keep our ability to mobilize to get to where the bad guys are in a timely fashion."

"The operating basis is to be able to respond on a timely basis to illegal activity in areas that we have strategically selected those areas so that from there we are able to move in a 360 angle to be able to react within 30 minutes."

In somewhat related news, the Associated Press reports that "a team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala's western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central American region."

Channel 7

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