Five days after members of the Mexican Navy sized 45 kilos of Crystal Meth during a raid conducted at the home of Mexican drug lord of The Pelones in Chetumal, Carlos Cabañas Catzin AKA “El Monstruo”, senior officials of the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), the Navy Secretariat and members of the Belize Defense Force met behind closed doors to address issues dealing with security at the border that divides Mexico and Belize in order to wipe out organized crime. Belize was directly involved in the discussion since two Belizean Nationals namely Ermelinda Vasquez and Hugo Cassanova along with six other Mexican Nationals including “El Monstruo” were arrested and charged with drug possession for purposes of sale.
Yesterdays meeting also unveiled the importance of coordination of security projects in the region to win the battle against transnational criminal organizations. The Belize Defense Force believes that the completion of the Joint Operations Center in Ladyville, expected to be completed by the end of 2013, will improve the information exchange with Mexico, which will have a capacity of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Security forces of the BDF, the Coast Guard, Customs, Police and Immigration will plan and direct operations from the center of the country. Plans have also been made to open operating bases near the border with support of tactical operations.
The geography is a challenge for Belize in relation to the safety of its 251 km border with Mexico. In the East, drug traffickers transport their cargo through Ambergris Caye, which borders the southern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. In the north, the only division between the two nations is the narrow Rio Hondo, which creates a porous border where smugglers can see the movements of the security forces. Belize has been recognized as a transshipment point for illegal drugs en route to the United States and its resources to fight drug traffickers, who are well funded, are limited. However, military leaders of Belize and Mexico consider that improving communications infrastructure, procurement of equipment and more training will help to optimize the control of the permeable border.