Tonight, yet another plane has been added to the long list of suspicious aircraft that have landed or attempted to land in Belize. Recently though, reports have started to place those planes in the south. Two weeks ago, one landed on the Guatemalan side of the Sarstoon - and last night it was on a mennonite farm near Barranco, Toledo . Our Emanuel Pech and Angel Noble were the first media to get there and here's what they saw:
"I am on the outskirts of the quiet village of Barranco near what is presumed to be a drug plane landing. This goes on the list of a series of drug plane landings in Belize over the last couple of years. Just behind me over that shed is small white aircraft heavily guarded by a platoon of officers."
What you see here is a single engine Cessna 210. Authorities in Punta Gorda were alerted to the landing of the suspicious aircraft in the wee hours of the morning.
Police say that sometime between 9 and 10 pm last night, the aircraft landed here, on Pletts farm about a mile off the Barranco Village Road, in the Toledo District.
Our news team arrived at the scene shortly after 11 this morning. BDF and MIT had already swarmed the area; guarding the aircraft with very heavy artillery;
Some even wore masks. They approached us; but before we could reveal our identities as media personnel the officers told us to turn back and so we did.
We stopped approximately 300 yards from the scene to get some more footage. But again, we were told to leave.
"We a give you a final warning to come off the property right. Let's go pack up those things."
"What is the limit sir?"
"Private property, so outside of the gate. This is your final warning."
"Sir no problem."
"Pack that up, off it."
We left the scene, followed closely by our uniformed escorts. They locked the gate on us to keep us away for good.
Part of their extra sensitivity might be because of this guy sitting down behind the wheel of this SUV. It's difficult to tell from this angle but he is not taking a break from the heat. He is in handcuffs
And He is Police Constable Peter Graham assigned to the Punta Gorda Police Formation.
He and another unnamed man were found in the immediate area inside an SUV.
Authorities say the SUV had a drum of aviation fuel and what resembled airplane seats. What Graham intended to do with these items is left for authorities to determine.
In the meantime PC Graham will remain detained pending the outcome this investigation.
Now, although this is a suspected drug plane landing, police turned up empty handed when they searched the aircraft. The plane was empty except for several drums of aviation fuel found in the immediate area. It most be noted that since November of last year there have been a total of 13 suspicious planes that have been either intercepted, abandoned or destroyed within Belize.
Police have released Graham's name, but have not disclosed what charges if any will be brought against him. He is reported to be form Barranco Village.
Another Drug Plane Lands in Barranco; 1 Officer Detained
The most recent suspected drug plane landing was in southern Belize. Previous landings were occurring frequently up north where the narco-traffickers were generally outsmarting police in their modus operandi. The plane that landed overnight is a Centurion single engine, similar to one that was found in Tres Leguas community in Orange Walk with one thousand two hundred and twenty-six pounds of cocaine. In that case, a senior police officer was arrested. But in Thursday night’s illegal landing, the cargo had already been carted away when police got to the scene around eleven o’clock. A police constable, however, was found in the area with aviation fuel and the seats of the aircraft in his vehicle. Another man, believed to be a Guatemalan national, was with him. News Five’s Duane Moody has more on the landing.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Another police officer is in trouble with the law tonight for his alleged involvement in a suspected drug plane landing in southern Belize. Police Constable Peter Graham was detained after he was caught fleeing the scene of an illegal plane landing three miles outside Barranco Village, Toledo.
Sometime between nine and ten o’clock on Thursday night, the plane landed on a farm belonging to a Mennonite businessman located about a mile off the Barranco Road. When personnel from the Anti-Narcotics Unit and the Belize Special Assignment Group responded to reports of the landing, they found the aircraft empty and drums of aviation fuel nearby. No drugs, however, have been found; and although the responding officers have since scoured the area, the cargo it appears had been offloaded and carted away. The officers also came across an SUV with PC Graham and another man inside purported to be a Guatemalan national. A drum of aviation fuel and airplane seats were discovered in their possession.
While the origin of the plane has not been established at this time, we note that Edward Vincent Martinez posted on his Facebook page on December twelfth that he was reliably informed—more so that the government—that sometime between December tenth and seventeenth, a plane carrying illegal narcotics would be leaving Venezuela en route to Belize. Coincidence or not, with the landing of this suspected drug plane three miles from Barranco Village in the Toledo District, it questions is police are looking at the possible correlation. Of note also is that Martinez had also posted pictures of a book with coordinates and details of plane landings in Belize just prior to the major bust in Tres Leguas, for which Superintendent David Chi, PC Norman Anthony and three others were charged back in September.
The Belize Police Department along with other partner agencies are conducting a vigorous investigation into this matter. Reporting for News Five, I am Duane Moody.