To Support the Fight Against Crime in Belize

U.S. Embassy Belmopan presented six vehicles to the Government of Belize today as a security donation to the Police Department and the Customs and Excise Department to deter and disrupt criminal activities in remote areas and to expand law enforcement training opportunities for officers throughout Belize.

This latest U.S. government donation is valued at over U.S. $187,000. Over the past 12 years, the United States has contributed over U.S. $34 million to Belize through the CARSI program.

This timely donation reflects the United States' staunch commitment to work with partner countries to combat transnational clime and to strengthen citizen sectuity. The vehicles were funded through the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), with key support by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

Chargé d'Affaires, a.i. Leyla Moses-Ones emphasized, "The donated vehicles will strengthen the Government of Belize's ability to quickly respond to trafficking and other illegal activities, while ensuring that officers in remote locations can access professional training. The trafficking of drugs, people, contraband, and other illegal products in Belize affects not only the stability of the country, but the region as well. We are proud to stand with Belize in the fight against criminal networks."

The United States donated four pickup trucks and one all-terrain vehicle to units within the Police Department, including the Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Unit, Mobile Interdiction Team, and the Training Support Unit. Another pickup truck was donated to the Enforcement Unit of the Customs and Excise Department.

Customs and Excise Comptroller Estella Leslie highlighted the significance of the vehicle donation to the Enforcement Unit, "This donation is a demonstration of the continuous partnership shared between the Belize Customs and the U.S. Embassy. This gift will contribute significantly towards combating smuggling activities and strengthening our enforcement efforts. We are confident that such a gift will enhance our response efforts and provide immediate results."

D-Max Pickups to Defend The Border

Tonight, the police department's MIT and ATIPS Units have a few new vehicles in their fleet. That's after a substantial donation by the U.S. government today.

Our news team made the journey to the handing over ceremony at Belmopan's Police training school and learned just how pressing a need our border regions have for the increased mobility of law enforcement.

Cherisse Halsall reports.

It's 6 Shiny New ISUZU D-MAXs designated for Belize's police and Customs and Excise departments.

It's a security donation, valued at $374,000.00 dollars and given by the U.S. Embassy. This morning Charge d'affaires Leyla Moses Ones said that the goal is to combat transnational crime.

Leyla Moses-Ones - Charge D'Affaires, U.S. Embassy
"The United States and Belize have a long and enduring partnership and we are very proud to support Belizean law enforcement in countering Transnational organized Crime and all other Criminal elements that undermine Belize's sovereignty, we are committed to standing with Belize as trusted partners to ensure that the law enforcement agencies are well equipped to successfully protect not only the borders but the interior of the country."

But that's a very wide area to cover and the police can't do it alone, that's where the customs and excise department comes in. Comptroller Estelle Lesile says their role doesn't come without its challenges.

Estelle Lesile - Comptroller of Customs
"One of these gaps is mobility and so we at customs are happy today to have been gifted with a motor vehicle to add to our law enforcement tool box. I want to thank the U.S. embassy and I.N.L for this much needed equipment which will be deployed to the northern region enforcement team and will support our existing law enforcement and investigation activities in that area."

Also patrolling along the borders is the police department's Mobile Interdiction team, this morning the COMPOL praised their successes and promised that the two vehicles added to their fleet would only increase their effectiveness.

Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"The M.I.T have been and continue to be engaged along our borders. We know that transnational crime is a serious problem for us particularly here within our region. Belize stands at a very strategic location for criminals to move through to Mexico and into the U.S. and so there's that mutual interest for both governments to stem this problem. We are going to do our part their M.I.T to protect the interest of our people and the interest of our partners gun smuggling, human smuggling, and contraband are all things that plague our economy and those are things that M.I.T is mandated to deal with."

And while those are domestic security issues, the U.S. sees it as part of a wider regional security net that creates less porous borders which means less pressure at theirs.

Not Just Anyone Will Drive These D-Max Trucks

And while those vehicles looked shiny and new today, you might be wondering how they'll look in a year. We put that question to the COMPOL, and he told us that authorization to drive the new D-MAX trucks will be limited.

Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"As I said before that these vehicles are specifically assigned to MIT, A-TIPS and training support unit. We have our protocols in terms of who can drive vehicles and it is expected that commanders are going to adhere to the protocol as not to have any Tom Dick and Harry jump into a particular vehicle and go and if its that were to occur, then they are corrective measures that can be taken to ensure that there is no repetition. These units where these vehicles are going to have a very good track record of maintaining vehicles and ensuring that the protocols governing the use of our vehicles are adhered to."

Channel 7