Determined contraband smugglers caused a major incident this weekend on the Rio Hondo.

It happened on Saturday evening when a police unit tried to intercept a boat loaded with contraband. The boat was about to dock at Santa Cruz, Orange Walk, which is across from Botes, Mexico.

The men on the boat were unloading a sack of onions in the Belize side when they saw the police; and took evasive action. And then, suddenly, gunshots from the Mexican side. The commissioner of police who went to the area today in response to the weekend incident narrated to us what became an international incident:

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"On Saturday there was an incident in the Santa Cruz area whereby members of the security forces were within that area when they saw a canoe coming from Botes area. There were about 6 persons inside the canoe and it appeared to have been stocked with contraband goods. When they reach the banks of the river the officers who were there came out to make a detention and upon doing so the contrabandits jump back into the canoe and paddle back out to the middle of the river and made their way over to the Botes side of the Rio Hondo. While the officers were still on the banks of the river, a person who was standing on the Mexican side fired a single shot in the direction of the officers. The officers retreated and the persons who were in the canoe managed to make their way safely back to the Mexican side eluding the Belizean law enforcement authority."

Jules Vasquez
"How concern are you about something like this? This is an international incident - shots being fired from one country into the other country."

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"We had referred the matter to the ministry of foreign affairs. They are dealing with it coordinating with their Mexican counterparts, but in the meantime as the security forces we will maintain our strong presence in the area. We are not going to relent and we want all those persons who are engaged in contraband and putting the lives of our Belizean people at risk - that we will stay on top of our game and we are going to be even more aggressive."

Jules Vasquez
"Will there be any linking with your Mexican counterparts to find out who may have fired the shot over from the Mexican side?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"I know that the Belize Defence Force has in deed coordinated with the Mexican counterpart and that is in the process of working its way out."

Jules Vasquez
"What are the rules of engagement when fired comes from the Mexican side of the river?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"We are not going to do anything that is going to further aggravate any international situation, so if it is that we can retreat then we will retreat. Now if it is a situation where the officers remain under constant fire while retreating, then they will have to defend themselves."

As you heard, the international dimension of this incident is being dealt with by the BDF and the Ministry of foreign Affairs.

Channel 7