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Former Wanted Mexican Official Captured in Belize; Released

Former Wanted Mexican Official Captured in Belize; Released
March 01
07:55 2019

A former Mexican government official, Gonzalo Abelardo Herrera Castilla, 50, who was wanted in his country, and who was found last week in Belize with un-customed goods and a stash of money was allowed to leave the country after he paid the fines for the two offences for which he was charged.

Head of the Belize District’s Crimes Investigations Branch, (CIB) Assistant Superintendent of Police Alejandro Cowo told the press this afternoon that the charges against the former Mexican head of the Secretariat of Public Management (2012-2016) were the result of a search which Police and Customs personnel conducted at Herrera’s home in San Pedro where he had resided for the past two years. This was after he was nabbed in a boat while he was about to enter Belize at a boardwalk in the lagoon area of San Pedro.

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Cowo said that Herrera was charged in accordance with the Customs Act and he paid his fine, but was also charged when Immigration officers checked his status and discovered that he had entered Belize illegally. He was charged for that and also fined, but managed to clear again. The boat, however, was seized.

Additionally, the search yielded US$14,280, $1,078 in Belize currency and 86 Quetzales, which the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) seized when Herrera could not give a rational explanation for having that amount of cash. When the case went to the Magistrate’s Court, however, it fell apart because he was allowed to provide exculpatory evidence, which is evidence that is favourable to a defendant that exonerates or tends to exonerate that defendant.

Manuel Villanueva, 40, another Mexican who was once Mexico’s Fiscal Procurator of the Secretariat of Finance and Planning (Sefiplan) and who was with Herrera, was charged by Customs personnel for falsifying a document and he too was charged and fined, which he paid.

Herrera, who is from Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, was allowed to leave the country because it was discovered that he is in the process of getting his Belizean citizenship through heritage because his grandmother is a Belizean. Cowo explained to the media that in order to deport someone, they needed to have gone through a process, which involves a warrant from the country who wants them detained, even if it gives him the chance to abscond before that process is carried out.

Herrera is wanted by Mexican authorities for the offense of ‘Illicit Use of Power.’ In July of 2017, he avoided going to jail after meeting a $59.45 million Mexican pesos ($6.2 million Belize) bail.

Herrera is wanted by Mexican authorities for the offense of ‘Illicit Use of Power.’ In July of 2017, he avoided going to jail after meeting a $59.45 million Mexican pesos ($6.2 million Belize) bail.

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