A pair of men, both of whom are Mexican nationals, has been fined by customs and immigration authorities in Belize, even though one of them is wanted by Interpol for crimes committed in his home country.  Fifty-year-old Abelardo Castilla and forty-year-old Manuel Villanueva were busted in San Pedro where customs officials recovered an assortment of contraband items.  They were both charged for the uncustomed goods and were later detained by immigration officials for other offenses.  They met their fines and were subsequently released and while they are both free men, Castilla is wanted in neighboring Chetumal where he is accused of committing a white collar crime.  According to Assistant Superintendent Alejandro Cowo, while the police department is aware that Castilla is wanted, his extradition to Mexico has to be requested and a formal procedure then undertaken before he can be arrested in Belize.

ASP Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Belize City

“On Sunday morning, San Pedro police, along with customs department personnel, they conducted a search at the residence of Gonzalo Abelardo Herrera Castilla, a fifty-year-old Mexican national of Chetumal, Quintana Roo.  As a result, police found some uncustomed goods and as a result he was detained.  He was charged based on the customs act, he paid his fine and thereafter immigration checked his status.  He was also charged by immigration and he paid his fine.  There was another Mexican national along with him by the name of Manuel Villanueva, forty years old of the same Chetumal, Quintana Roo.  He was charged by customs for falsifying a document, paid his fine and both of them are out at this moment.”

Reporter

“What about the twenty-nine thousand dollars estimated in cash?”

ASP Alejandro Cowo

“That matter was by F.I.U., that matter was dealt with at the court and I believe it was withdrawn from the court.”

Reporter

“The matter of the boat as well?  They were trying to register into a Belizean’s name?”

ASP Alejandro Cowo

“Yes, the boat is still at customs, confiscated by the customs department.”

Isani Cayetano

“I understand that one, if not both of these men are wanted by Interpol for crimes allegedly committed in their home country?”

ASP Alejandro Cowo

“Yes, we are aware that one of them is wanted in Mexico, however, we have to understand that they cannot be detained in Belize if we do not have any apparent reason to detain them.  Yes, if there is a warrant abroad we have to go through a process before his detention is done.  There is a process that needs to be followed before anything comes to his arrest.”

Channel 5