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US Says Belize Is Major Illicit Drug Producing and Major Drug-Transit Country

The US State Department has released its 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report - and Belize is designated as one of 22 major Illicit Drug Producing and Major Drug-Transit Countries, along with all other Central American Nations - and three Caribbean nations.

Belize is also designated as a Major Money Laundering Country - in a very long list of those.

The report finds, quote, "Belize is a transit country for illicit drugs destined for the United States from source countries in South America. Belize is susceptible to the transshipment of illegal drugs due to its position along the Central American isthmus, relatively uninhabited terrain, and the hundreds of cayes off its coast�.Belize is bordered by countries where the drug trade is controlled by well-organized and violent drug trafficking organizations. A concerted effort by those organizations to establish themselves in Belize would present serious challenges to the country's law enforcement and justice institutions."

The report adds, quote, "Belize's drug control efforts are hampered by the same challenges faced by the rest of the country's security sector - corruption, insufficient investigative capacity, an ineffective judicial sector, and a lack of political will."

It concludes, quote, "The United States encourages Belize to strengthen its public security and law enforcement institutions through more effective anti-corruption legislation, comprehensive background checks and vetting of new and existing personnel, enhanced training, and continuing education programs."

Channel 7

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AG Michael Peyrefitte Suspicious about Belize’s Designation as a Narcotics Transshipment Point

Belize has been designated for the third year by the United States as a major transshipment point for the trafficking of drugs to North America.� Other countries within Central America and the Caribbean have also been named under that description.� But is the recent report issued by the U.S. Department of State credible, since Belize was never consulted prior to gathering information that has since been published? �According to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, data contained within the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report is perhaps unreliable given the U.S. government's failure to collaborate with local authorities in putting together its assessment.� While the report states that Belize's attempts at mitigating the flow of drugs through the country are stymied by various challenges, the AG says that the U.S. should provide more information to local officials in order to arrest narco-trafficking activities.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

"I haven't been able to see the official release or the official documentation on it, but that's another country's assessment of what's going on in Belize.� I would like for them to produce for the government the evidence that they have to say that we are a major transshipment point before I agree with them.� Not because they say it's so means that I will readily agree with them.� The people who normally put out these reports don't cooperate with us on that level.� So I am very wary and, to be honest with you, suspicious of any reports that they put out like that because we have no way of verifying what they are saying.� They don't often trust us, they don't often trust us with information and so any assessment that they bring out; we don't trust that assessment either.� We don't know.� Indeed, people can point to say well, you have these abandoned planes here and there and whatever, but at the same time without any evidence to say what was in those planes, how can you say for sure what was in them.� So if they have information, we would love that information and if they have that information for the purpose of helping us resist the temptation for people to come to Belize to transship drugs we would gladly participate in ensuring that that doesn't happen because we have a serious fight against that as well.� We don't condone that, we don't support the transshipment of drugs.� But without the cooperation of these people who pass judgment on us, how can we do more to say then that we expected this to be the assessment."

Channel 5

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AG on U.S. Drug Report – "Unfair and Cowardly"

On April ninth, a U.S. Narcotics reports listed Belize as one of twenty-two major drug transit countries. The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report of the U.S. State Department designated Belize, saying, "Belize's drug control efforts are hampered by the same challenges faced by the rest of the country's security sector - corruption, insufficient investigative capacity, an ineffective judicial sector and a lack of political will."� At the time when we spoke with Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, he had not yet seen the report, but condemned the designation. But today, he didn't mince his words saying that the actions are cowardly and that nothing has been presented to back up these claims.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

"I have also said that the US also needs to work on their demand, maybe if they will stop using so much drugs, we wouldn't be selling any, according to them. But, like I said, it is a very questionable attack. It doesn't help. I have said this before and I will say this again, that is their opinion of what Belize is. What evidence do they have? They have not presented to us any evidence why is it they believe that. It's based on what? Based on what they are saying we are a major transshipment point of drugs? We don't have any information from them as to what is the foundation of that analysis. They don't share any information with us. If they know, if the US knows who is bringing drugs into Belize, then let us know and we will arrest those people because drugs are illegal. So, what information do they have that they are not telling us about? We don't know. But like I said, that is their opinion. It is a black eye, yes, because they are an elephant and we are a flea in world politics and geo-politics. But at the same time I think it is very unfair and very cowardly that you would pass a judgment like that on Belize without any evidence to show on what based that opinion on."

Andrea Polanco

"Is there anything the Government or your office will be doing to communicate with them about this report?"

Michael Peyrefitte

"We talk to them every day. They tend to want information but don't give information. As long as we are not treated equally or operate on an equal footing, then what can we do? All we can do is to try and fight crime the best that we can. If there is an illegal activity, we go to stomp it out and we bring the people to court, they have their day in court and the justice systems decides. But until then, I do not accept any other country's assessment on my country without at least trying to do some good with that assessment."

Channel 5

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