Today, the Belize Coast Guard received a hefty donation from the U.S. Government in the form of outboard engines and night vision goggles to help in its crime fighting efforts at sea. News Five’s Duane Moody was at the ceremony held this morning and files this report.

Duane Moody, Reporting

Four hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment was handed over to the Belize Coast Guard today as the naval arm of the Ministry of National Defence and Border Security continues its battle against transnational criminal organizations.

Florencio Marin Jr. Minister of National Defence and Border Security

“Through the generosity of the United States Government we now have six new motorboat engines to assist the coast guard. We also have some night vision goggles that are going to expand the operational capability of the coast guard from daytime to night time. So this is going to make the coast guard much more effective in their work.”

Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Belize, Keith Gilges says that it is an investment in the coast guard and the region through the U.S. Government’s Central American Regional Security Initiative, CARSI, which has since invested over forty-three million U.S. dollars in Belize.

Keith Gilges, Chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy in Belize

“I say it is not a donation; it is an investment. And a Belize that is stable, prosperous, has control of its borders, has control of its seas, all that is good for Belize and is also good for the U.S. So when we are cooperating with the minister, when we are cooperating with the coast guard and the Belize Defense Force, it’s about investing in their capabilities because that’s good for both countries. The transnational criminal organizations – they are sophisticated, they are smart, they’ve got lots of money, they are working together collaborating and also adapting and innovating. If we want to combat them, we need to be as smart, as sophisticated and frankly better resourced and better adapt. So this is an investment in that goal.”

Given the recent coastal piracy, Acting Commandant Gregory Soberanis says that the investment further strengthens the coast guard’s enforcement capability.

Commander Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“Our night time gear before this was limited. This will greatly enhance our ability to function at night and to conduct night operations. So this will help us tremendously as we patrol Belize’s maritime spaces. This will greatly enhance our ability and capacity to function at sea and to execute our mandate of maritime safety and security. Moreover, citizen security is of utmost importance to us and definitely with these equipment, it will enable us to further expand our reach at sea and better counter transnational organized crime.”

Channel 5