Los Zetas Draws New Smuggling Routes Through Belize
By Dialogo November 07, 2011
In the coastal town of Punta Gorda, a white, twin-engine airplane — larger than the planes usually used for domestic flights in Belize — landed right in the middle of Southern Highway.
Authorities discovered a nearby truck with about 500 gallons of jet fuel. The plane had stopped in Belize to refuel, but since its wings were slightly damaged upon landing, the Beechcraft Super King Air wasn’t able to take off and the crew abandoned it, police said. The crew left behind a cargo of 2,600 kilograms of Colombian cocaine. Local police said it was the biggest drug bust in Belize’s history.
That was back in November. Since then, things have only gotten worse for Belize, which once enjoyed fame as the world’s top diving spot. Homicide rates are skyrocketing, and Los Zetas is making Belize its smuggling route of choice, police said.
“The open waterways pose many challenges for Belize’s small population and meager resources,” said Police and Public Safety Minister Dough Singh.
With barely 330,000 people inhabiting a country larger than El Salvador, Belize has a chronic need for aerial support and radio detection equipment, he said. “The result is that large amounts of drugs may be traversing Belize en route to the United States.”
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in a recent study on murder rates, noted that “Mexico’s struggle has attracted a lot of attention, with much less falling on an area far more threatened: Central America. As maritime interdiction has increased and Mexico itself has become far more contested, a growing share of cocaine headed northward is passing through northern Central America, including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.”
Last year, the country reported a homicide rate of 41.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the UNODC study. Singh said police and the Belize Defense Force are planning to establish a Joint Operation Center and an Intelligence Fusion Center to better coordinate their activities and the flow of intelligence. Another initiative consists of opening forward operating bases near the country’s border with Mexico.
“We recognize that we face a regional challenge,” Singh said. “As such, we must engage with our regional partners in finding a regional solution.”
Los Zetas operates in Belize
Recent drug and weapons seizures near Belize’s northern border with Mexico show that Los Zetas and other Mexican and Colombian drug-trafficking organizations are drawing new smuggling routes through the sparsely populated nation.
In November 2010, Guatemalan drug lord Otoneil Turcios Marroquín, with alleged links to Los Zetas, was captured in Belize and turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. He had been sought by the United States since 2003 for allegedly smuggling 1,600 kilos of cocaine, which were subsequently distributed on the streets of New York.
After Los Zetas perpetrated a massacre in a farmhouse in Petén, Guatemala, earlier this year, Guatemalan authorities reported that a four-wheel-drive vehicle with Belize license plates had been used by its members and found in the ranch. Police said the diplomatic vehicle had been stolen from a Guatemalan driver assigned to an outpost of the Organization of American States along Guatemala’s border with Belize.
Stories of drug-toting tourists are not uncommon in Belize. More than a few backpackers have been found with packs of cannabis in their pants pockets. “Many have been arrested for openly smoking marijuana on the keys such as San Pedro and Caye Caulker,” said Belize News 5 analyst José Sánchez. “They think it’s OK.”
The biggest concern, of course, is for the larger amounts of hard drugs that are passing by undetected. Belize has 450 keys, most of them uninhabited.
Belize, a hub for meth
Belize not only has seen increases in cocaine trafficking, but also in marijuana and in precursor chemicals en route to Mexico as well. In 2010, Belize seized 97 metric tons of marijuana, in comparison to the 291 kilos confiscated the year before.
Noteworthy, said Sánchez, are the recurring attempts to introduce loads of pseudoephedrine in the country. “It was relatively unknown until 2008,” he said. From that point on, port authorities regularly found shipments coming from China and other Asian countries via Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Spain.
In Belize, it is illegal to import any medicine that contains pseudoephedrine, which can be chemically combined with other substances to produce methamphetamine or crystal meth.
Several loads of pseudoephedrine have disappeared from the port in Belize City. All attempts to hold somebody accountable for the theft have failed, said Sánchez. In early October, three Customs officers were acquitted of two counts of forgery in relation to the disappearance of a container of pseudoephedrine tablets in September 2008.
The Comptroller of Customs also has been under attack for cracking down on drug trafficking. In March 2009, a live grenade was thrown onto the third-floor balcony of the home of Gregory Gibson, who had earlier received several death threats.
“It is widely speculated that because the Customs Department was determined to halt pseudoephedrine shipments, neighboring cartels hired local thugs to throw a grenade at the Comptroller of Customs as a warning,” Sánchez said.
The influx of illicit substances has meant an increase in the country’s crime rate. “Murder is at an all-time high,” said Singh. “Drug activities have certainly contributed to this increase.”
The UNODC report corroborates Singh’s statement, noting that “the murder rates in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize are three to five times higher than in Mexico, and both the economy and the state are far less robust and resilient.”
no coment unfortunate news, but right on time since I plan to visit your country very soon. is not suitable for tourism to arrest backpackers that keep on smoking marihuana. THE TRUTH IS THAT THIS IS NOT SURPRISING BECAUSE WE ARE CLOSE TO DIFFICULT AND VERY COMPLICATED TIMES, BELIZE IS VERY NICE AND QUIET, BUT WITH THIS I THINK IT WILL LOSE A BIT OF FAME; THAT IS UNFORTUNATE...HOPEFULLY IT WILL OVERCOME THIS AND BE ALL RIGHT. los zetas are motherfâ€¦s of vegas and I am fredy from chiantla EVERY PROBLEM OF THE BIGGEST DRUG CONSUMER COUNTRY REACHES OUR BROTHER COUNTRIES; I REALLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND, IF THEY ARE COMING OUT OF A ECONOMIC RECESSION, WHY DO THEY SPEND THEIR MONEY ON DRUGS, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. see this is really good article It is not uncommon what is happening in Belize since it borders with Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, it is affected by the same ills, and as in a Greek tragedy, our countries put the dead and the addicts in North America continue taking drugs crazily. We would like to see the Obama Administration fighting in these territories with more decision; and this takes me to the question why Americans (USA) do not install radio detection in Central America to reduce the transfer of drugs to the region as a transit point to the North. I feel sorry for these countries where only the settlers are the ones affected. Many countries want to eradicate the drug but it is only a matter of time and then they are back again. Those agencies that are in the country are only a faÃ§ade, because they do nothing for the citizens. As a Guatemalan I think that it was time that the Government of Guatemala demanded from the U.S. Government a better compensation for the confiscating drugs flowing through our territory.The little help they give us does not compensate Guatemala's effort in resolving a problem that is not ours. los zetas are a scourge that governments don't want to exterminate and it is not difficult to eliminate them What we feel as citizens of any country dominated by gangs, who have excelled with drug trafficking, is sadness and the help of the USA, is to some extent ridiculous, but this happens to us because we have had so many many previous corrupt governments. They allow everything if it favors their well being. We hope that the current Government will be different if not we no longer bear it. We pray for our Guatemala so that not only bad things continue happening to us. Drug traffickers are damaging property. Formerly, the landlords ere feared, with their capital they bought the land humiliating their inhabitants. Then, the internal wars that faced to the army with the guerrillas, and none of that was as nefarious as now with the narcos grabbing what the capitalists bought and because of their weapons and their violence it seems that there is little power to cope with them. Plus all that, our ecological heritage is also threatened. We must support every proposal that can contribute to eradicating the narcos. Expressing our refusal is something already. Saying nothing is allowing... IT IS TRUE THAT THEY ARE USING OUR COUNTRY AS A CORRIDOR FOR DRUGS BUT THANK GOD WE HAVE NOT BEEN VERY AFFECTED YET AS CITIZENS HERE IN BELIZE. AS A BELIZE CITIZEN, I HOPE THAT THE SITUATION WILL IMPROVE WITH THE HELP OF THE AUTHORITIES Of course that in the United States there must be major drug distributors, however I would like to see in the news that foe once one of them is arrested. It is fine that the President of Guatemala Otto PÃ©rez Molina has brought into the debate alternative ways of combating this scourge. Unfortunately, this was handed to the OAS, which as everyone knows, is only able to respond to special interests and not precisely to the interests of the Member States. It is a sad institution. The day this institution truly responds to our interests, the matter will change. It is necessary to put pressure on U. S.policy so they can allocate sufficient resources for the fight against the worst scourge that humanity has had in recent times: drug trafficking, murder, and terrorism. It is an unequal war with the bandits, so technology, a lot of equipment and training is needed. It is necessary to put pressure on the U.S. politics in order for them to allocate sufficient resources for the fight against the worst scourge that humanity has had in recent times: drug trafficking, murder, and terrorism. It is an unequal war with the bandits, technology, a lot of equipment and training is needed.. We need that the President holds firm control of the country because they are invading Guatemala Those who love our land always strive to keep it clean. I am sure that the Belizeans will do the same thing. This is the land of my grandpa, GermÃ¡n Paz. I have always wanted to visit this beautiful country of dreams and charms of islands and clear water. Los zetas have taken over the municipality of Ixcan, because the guys have the people selling smuggled fuel, they are the zeta's ears. Also there are two men who are lenders that make money-laundering with most of the sellers of the municipality of Ixcan Quiche. Where are the authorities if the police are accomplices THERE IS NO NEED TO burn it, just charge a tax for the corresponding passing and that's it. Well it is time for all the countries of the area in an integrated fashion combat this practice of taking the life of the people of the so-called small countries. England and the United States now have the opportunity to join with Mexico and the entire area of C.A.to exterminate this scourge of drug trafficking, wherever it comes from. No more individual struggles, we must deal with it as a region and support the process of decriminalization that is just being discussed. See, itÂ´s pure shit, during more than 10 years tons of drugs are passing through Belize, and the Government looks the other way, all the guys that go to Belize say the same thing, then Belize is very poor, only has a population equal to jalapa and then they willingly cover the zetas, and give them a lot of money, plus Belizeans do not work, they are lazy and like easy money THE TRUTH IS THAT ALL LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES HAVE BEEN INVADED BY THIS DRUG TRAFFICKING.... BUT ALSO SOME FROM THE GUERRILLAS.... WHAT CAN WE DO Berro damaged them the little route, okay. Belize is very nice to have it as a route... The U.S. route that directly reaches the United States. Unfortunately this business is like this thanks to senior authorities that are bribed or that take part in the shipments to earn more money as long as they can. I trust God that some day the consumption of drugs ends. It is a huge damage to the people. Guatemala and Belize have to walk together towards development. Belize is not to blame, I am a Salvadoran and here we are very badly, but if those dogs believe that smuggling drugs is beautiful, that they are going to come and make our lives worse. Stop it. WHY DO YOU TORMENT DECENT PEOPLE? I know the city of Belize and elsewhere, and the truth that they are very nice, not only to visit, but to live. I liked their laws and at the moment I do not know if they still have the gallows as death penalty. If it is still so, what are they waiting to hang them in public square to both crime narco promoters and other crimes. Send the Inhuman Rights defenders in a tube and keep the tranquility of their people, which is the most important thing They should not chase the backpackers, but to the petty drug traffickers of the sayache cartel who are responsible for the sponsorship of the trafficking that the zetas have in that area. In Belize city marijuana has been smoked during many years without censorship, even in central park. the U.S. must INCULCATE in schools information programmes to the children to avoid potential consumers and not only focus on hunting fortunes of the drug barons. This is a complex problem which must be resolved immediately because this diabolical vice is killing many young people and children and it is seriously affecting the economy of the people that do want to work and are blackmailed by those vandals. I do not understand if the authorities of the United States are not corrupt, how drugs are distributed in the United States. Maybe they don't realize the movements of these business magnates. Latin America is undergoing the same process of the employees of soft drinks factories, either pepsi coca, or coca cola. The employees are fighting for market positioning and the owners are the same ones. I consider that when drugs enter the U.S., among us there are some little gringos that are in power that support this business. They donâ€™t allow those people to work without complications, just charge them a tax for that business to flow better and avoid so many massacres. Central America should adopt the free drug transit law, and let it cross to Mexico and that country must decide what to do with it. Mexico sends assassins and thugs to train youth gangs of Central America,it would be better if they stay to fight in Mexico. We can understand drug addiction as a disease which consists of addiction or dependence on certain toxic substances to our body, which affect in varying degrees our central nervous system, the judgment capacity and the perception of the environment that surrounds us, but what we do not understand is what our authorities do about it... AND WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF BELIZE BECOMES A GUATEMALAN TERRITORY... OK, I THINK THAT THE PROBLEM WOULD BE THE SAME BECAUSE IT DOES NOT HAVE THE NECESSARY RESOURCES TO COMBAT SUCH ATROCITY But if in Belize there has always been drugs, just take a stroll through Orange Street or George Street to see the precarious condition of the people there. I have lived in Belize, not everyone is an idler as the above comment states. There are exceptions as in every country. The truth is that if the U.S.were not the largest consumer there wouldn't be such a huge demand seen in the drug market. It is time to unite efforts and put ideological or political differences aside and strive to make our country a better place to live. I REALLY DON'T KNOW IF IN THE U.S. THEY CAPTURE LOCAL DRUG DEALERS, SINCE I IMAGINE THAT AS IN LATIN AMERICA, THERE HAS TO BE LOCAL CAPOS IN THE VARIOUS COUNTIES, RESIDENTIAL COLONIES, LOCATIONS, ETC. THAT THE DEA HAS LOCATED... BUT THESE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE CAUGHT, ARE THEY TRIED AND CONVICTED FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING? Hello, the drug trafficking issue is delicate and covers many social levels, which makes it difficult to control. The first thing I consider ridiculous is to criminalize certain substances and not others, such as tobacco and alcohol, which kill far more people than other drugs. The degree of culture is also important to determine the use of the drug and not the abuse. I want to say with this that the drug itself is not bad, but the problem is the bad use that man makes of it, as with almost everything else. And let's not talk about the widespread corruption that extends from the citizen that sees an opportunity to grow by connecting with the narcos to politicians, police and other social actors who accept money foe looking the other way. It is a sad and very complex issue and as they say, the United States should make a mea culpa because if it were not for the consumption of their society, the narcos would not have nowhere near the power and money they handle today. This is everybody's problem, and we need everyone's commitment to succeed! Greetings from Montevideo, Uruguay!! The drug business is the result of the same wrong criminal policies of the people, because earlier in South America transfers were made without intermediaries. By increasingly controlling through repressions, they now ship from their doors, in order that the ones that make the movements, tbe Central Americans, Mexicans and others, transforming them in armed groups with great power to corrupt authorities of each country; after being corrupted, authorities become part of the problem. This creates an arms industry, technology of international companies that their business is that there are these criminal groups, so it is a circle, that if it is not broken, it will be impossible to finish with this. It is estimated that the drug is the third industry of the world. Why is? Because it is a business. It is important to eliminate the prices of this product, and this only can be made through the legalization or regulation. This way it will affect the economy of these people and there won't exist large utilities, so it will break the interest and criminal circle, the risks will not be taken into account. We must think of what strategies to follow. Let us not have generations of apathy without doing anything. Wake up both Latin America and United States. Where can I contact los zetas, because they are giving work to many people and in El Salvador there is no work, and if you begin a business you are blackmailed by the gang members. Please, this is my twitter. I have a good knowledge of weapons because I belonged to the army, and now I am a war veteran. Once in a digital media Hillary Clinton was asked why USA did not legalize drugs, and as a good kingpin, the director of the foreign policy of the Empire answered that it could not be legalized because there was a lot of money at stake... draw you the consequences. It is suspected that insofar as USA increases its military presence in the region, drug trafficking in the region increases... and in Afghanistan, what happened to opium cultivation, it soared to unsuspected levels since the increase of the gringo military presence in that part of Asia. We do not trust the gringos at all. seeing the situation that Belize is going through, the aid of other neighbor countries or countries with more experience is necessary to deal with drug trafficking