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Nothing ‘Fishy’ in Release of Guats & Cash, CEO Says

Nothing ‘Fishy’ in Release of Guats & Cash, CEO Says
April 17
09:29 2019

The detention and very quick release of twelve Guatemalans caught by Coast Guard in the Moho River on March 29th is all above-board, CEO of Police Ret’d Col. George Lovell has assured the Reporter.

There were more questions than answers after the twelve men, caught in Belizean territory with $40,000 in undeclared cash, and in a boat not registered for Belizean waters, were released soon after they were handed over to Police in Punta Gorda by the Coast Guard. The men were allowed to leave the Police Station even before the Financial Intelligence Unit, summoned to deal with the matter of the $40,000 cash, could arrive.

Multiple queries over the past days in an attempt to understand why the men, who broke multiple Immigration, Customs and Port laws were released, went unanswered, with the Commissioner of Police only stating that the matter was under investigation, and he would say nothing more.

But there is some clarity, of sorts. According to CEO Lovell, “My understanding is that these people were coming from across Guatemala like most of these vessels that come from across Guatemala to Belize and they were intercepted before they were able to get into the Customs and Immigration area and this was the explanation given to me. So they were intercepted and did not have time to clear Customs and Immigration before they were taken to Police. So Police checked and the people gave them that explanation and so they were released to go about their legitimate business that they were on.”

The FIU claimed, in an interview, that they were not given an opportunity to interview the men concerning the large amount of cash that they had on them. This week FIU’s Director Kent Clare confirmed that a team of investigators were deployed for the purpose of interviewing the men about their business purpose in Belize, their source of funds among other issues so that any question of a financial crime being committed could have been cleared up. According to Clare by the time the FIU’s officers reached the destination the men had already been released from custody.

Clare said that although he was briefed that the men were detained prior to them being able to declare their funds, it was the FIU’s job to interview the subjects to make a final determination.

Multiple sources have told the Reporter that the Guatemalan men are allegedly involved in the trade of contraband cigarettes and are connected to influential persons in Belize. Those sources have maintained that the situation is not as clear-cut as CEO Lovell claims, and maintain that the men were released only after a phone call from ‘somebody way up the chain of command’ was received.

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