Only 7 days ago, news broke that the Belizean security forces detained 9 men, including 3 fellow lawmen with 2 bales of cocaine in a boat on the New River Lagoon. The police have charged these alleged Narco 9 for those bails, which is about 150 pounds of cocaine.

From there the cops followed the trail drug plane that crash-landed in the same general area. They found that aircraft with 23 bales of cocaine, at the crash site. Three more bales were fished up out of the lagoon a day later - to a total of 28 bales and just under a ton of cocaine.

But with a street value in the tens of million of dollars - that's not the kind of thing you'd want to leave lying around - and so, one week after it was found, police moved with haste to destroy the cargo. They escorted it this morning to a remote location, where they were destroyed. They invited the Press to witness the event, and our news team was there. Daniel Ortiz has that story:

This morning, a convoy of law enforcement teams escorted all those 28 bales of cocaine to a secure part of the country with the intent to burn and destroy the ENTIRE two thousand plus pound cargo.

ACP Marco Vidal - Commander, Operations, Police
"We have the 26 bales of cocaine that were the found property, and then we have the 2 that were found in the boat. I say 26 because it includes the 23 plus the 3 that were found afterward. And that totaled just under 1 tonne - 947 thereabouts. So is this is from the operations that were done on the 29th of this month, around 3:30 in the morning, where 6 persons were arrested."

"These persons have been arraigned before the court. They have pled not guilty. Today, we applied to the court. The prosecution applied to the court for the order to be given for it to be destroyed. So, the drugs were moved from a secure area in Belize City, to this area."

The thick plastic wrapping encasing each brick of coke was sliced open, and a chemist performed a test - in full view of everyone present - to confirm that the substance was indeed cocaine.

A few drops of Modified Scott's Reagent was dripped on the exposed portion. The testing solution appeared to be somewhat of pink color, and we were told that if it turned blue, that was an undisputed positive result, indicating that the substance was cocaine.

The entire oversight table, including a sitting Senior Magistrate, was responsible to account for every package, and once the cocaine test was administered, it was ready to be tossed on a massive bonfire.

These officials dutifully watched all those drugs go up in smoke. Being in any kind of proximity to the fire meant that the air was filled with a strong odor of chemicals.

ACP Marco Vidal
"So, we have the Magistrate. We have the chemist, who is the one sampling the drugs. We have a Justice of the Peace, and we have a senior officer who witnessed the drugs' destruction."

The Department's Commander of Operations told us that the need for this quick destruction was due to security reasons.

Reporter
"How does that factor into proving the guilt of these individuals since these items would be considered evidence?"

ACP Marco Vidal
"Right so, whenever the drugs are found, you have Scenes of Crime [who] go on the scene, and they gather the evidence. In addition to that, the drugs are photographed and everything. And that is taken before the court. You guys are here to witness that it is the drugs that are being destroyed. The evidence that the Scenes of Crime took is what is taken before the court to convict these people?"

Reporter
"Eventually, a report is made from all these activities."

ACP Marco Vidal
"Right, you have reports from all the different officers, and that is tendered as evidence."

Reporter
"Some would say, you know what, it was just taken into police custody last Friday, and within a week's time, it's being destroyed."

ACP Marco Vidal
"Right, and as you are aware, where the drugs were found, it is very close to the border, where we have this major problem with drugs. Further to that, the earlier we can get the drugs, the order for the drugs to be destroyed, it is destroyed. Everything is being followed by a process."

Reporter
"Is the necessity for swiftness and speed due to a security concern?"

ACP Marco Vidal
"Yes, it is."

Reporter
"Your take on the fact that you know what 3 law enforcement officers were found in possession of these 2 bales. It flies in the face of their duties."

ACP Marco Vidal
"Yes it does and that's why the commissioner has said that it is deplorable, it saddens the department. But we know that this exists. It exist in all security agencies, so our job is to gather the intelligence and get them when in the act, because anything other than that they will say it is just speculation."

Reporter
'What are your reactions when you see police officers being, I think this may be the third time that a lawman is being called up as supposedly being some facilitator in this trans-national operation?"

ACP Marco Vidal
"I think that speaks volume about the work that the police is actually doing, because we have genuine police officers and we have those that are engaging in these kind of activities. So for the police to go after these persons is applauding because we need to go after these persons. There are others, they just need to be exposed and then captured."

The drug destruction finished at 1:00 pm.

Of important note, the police asked our colleague journalist and talk show host, Louis Wade from Plus TV, to act as a sort of official witness to the destruction. He had to stay for the entire afternoon to witness all those bricks of cocaine completely burn.

Channel 7



Bales of Cocaine from Recent Drug Plane Go Up in Flames

And while those nine accused were receiving bail, elsewhere in the country, police were destroying almost a ton of cocaine from that very same drug plane. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting

The sweltering heat emission from the burning pile could be felt from afar. This man-made pit was set up by the Belize Police Department for the destruction of nine hundred and forty-eight point three kilos or two thousand ninety point six pounds of cocaine. Sixty-seven thousand nine hundred grams were from two bales found in possession of nine men, including three law enforcement officers, last Friday. 

ACP Marco Vidal, Commander of Operations, B.P.D.

“Whenever the drugs are found, you have scenes of crime goes on the scene and they gather the evidence. In addition to that, the drugs is photographed and everything and that is taken before the court and then you guys are here to witness that it is the drugs that are being destroyed. We have the magistrate, we have the chemist and then we have a justice of the peace and then we have a senior officer to witness the drug destruction.”

Police found twenty-three bales at the site of a plane crash in northern Belize District. Three were discovered somewhere behind Crooked Tree Village. According to police, they found two bales on board a boat that responding officers intercepted in the wee hours of January twenty-ninth on Hill Bank Lagoon. Operations Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police Marco Vidal explains the urgency for the destruction. 

ACP Marco Vidal

“Where the drugs were found is very close to the border where we have this major problem with drugs. Further to that, the earlier we can get the order for the drugs to be destroyed, it is destroyed. Everything is being followed by a process.”

Reporter

“Is the necessity for swiftness and speed due to a security concern?”

ACP Marco Vidal

“Yes it is. That is it. It is for security reasons.”

The process was efficient. Sacks filled with tightly wrapped parcels of the white stuff are offloaded, individually photographed and counted. Seconds before each package is slit open and thrown into the burning pit, a chemist would randomly select three of the parcels and with a Modified Scott’s Reagent, confirm that its content is cocaine. 

ACP Marco Vidal

“Prosecution applied to the court for the order to be given for it to be destroyed. So the drugs were removed from the secured area in Belize City to this area. It is now being sampled, twenty-six bales, plus the two, the twenty-eight bales are taken out and then each parcel is taken out from the bag. And then the chemist is checking that it is drug, that it is cocaine, and it is blue if it is cocaine. Once that is done, then it is thrown in the fire where it is consumed.”

ACP Marco Vidal says that while the department has made tremendous strides in the fight against this transnational crime, more has to be done. 

ACP Marco Vidal

“It is a small portion of what is really out there and our investigation, our intelligence will show these persons for what they are and once that is done, they will be arrested and charged for the offenses that they commit.”

Duane Moody 

“Your take on the fact that three law enforcement officers were found to be in the area, found in possession of two bales; it flies in the face of their duties.”

ACP Marco Vidal

“Yes it does and that’s why the commissioner has said that it is deplorable, it saddens the department. But we know that this exists; it exists in all security agencies. So our job is to gather the intelligence and get them in the act because anything other than that, they will say it is just speculation.”

Channel 5