The allegation was that immigration officers had allegedly extorted a pair of visitors out of $5,500 US dollars.
Well, the Immigration Department says the truth is far different than that allegation. A statement issued on Saturday says that on Friday 11 passengers who arrived on a COPA flight were "Refused Leave to Land" in Belize because they, quote, "did not meet the minimum requirements for entry into Belize."
Seven of these travellers, comprising four Colombians, and three citizens of the Dominican Republic were processed, given an "Order to Leave" and returned to Panama on the same day.
But, the other four, including two Dominicans, one Venezuelan, and one Brazilian, could not be processed before the COPA flight departed, and so they were held overnight at the Ladyville Police station and sent back to Panama on Saturday via TAG Airlines.
So why were these travellers refused entry? Our sources tell us that Immigration believes this is a human smuggling ring that is operating using that Copa flight - with a possible connection to human smugglers in Corozal.
Last week we told you about the 6 persons who arrived at the Philip Goldson International Highway on a Copa Airlines Flight from the Dominican Republic and Uganda. They were put up in a hotel in the custody of 3 immigration officers, who were supposed to stand guard over them until their repatriation flight the following day, but, it seems 3 of the travellers from the Dominican Republic escaped from the immigration officials.Channel 7