By Aaron Humes: Tonight 3 of 5 fishermen busted with over 600 uncleaned but market processed undersized conch must find over $15,000 in cash to pay the Belize City Magistrate’s Court (Government of Belize) after they pleaded guilty to various offenses.
27 year old Gilbert Perez
This evening, Fisheries Department Prosecutor, Hampton Gamboa, rushed over 8 men from a vessel that was all found in possession of the undersized unclean market sized conch.
Of the 8, only 5 were arraigned this evening before the Belize City Magistrate’s Court on fisheries offenses. They include boat vessel owner, 27 year old Gilbert Perez, 18 year old Nelson Delacruz, 27 year old Alvaro Delacruz, 22 year old Rodwell Tzul and a 17 year old minor all of Copper Bank, Corozal District.
Magistrate Carlon Mendoza read charges of possession of undersized conch to Perez, Nelson and Alvaro Delacruz and the 17 year old minor. Allegations are that on January 31, 2016, at 5:50 p.m., at Harry Jones Channel, Turneffe Atoll, the four of them were found in possession of 610 conch under the prescribed weight.
The minor tried to plead guilty, but withdrew the plea when the court ordered a report on him that would factor into and delay his sentencing. The vessel owner, Gilbert Perez took the rap instead and was fined $150.00 plus an additional $20 per conch which when added came up to $12,200 in fines. But due to the fact that he pleaded guilty and saved the court time, Magistrate Mendoza rounded off that fine to $10,000.00 and gave Perez to November 2, 2016 to pay it all.
22 year old Rodwell Tzul
The four were also charged for possession of 73 unprocessed conch which did not exceed 7 ½ ounces in weight.
Nelson Delacruz pleaded guilty and he was fined $150 for the offense plus an additional $20 per unprocessed conch which totaled $1,460.00, and an overall total of $$1,615.00 to be paid by September 16, 2016 in default of payment, 6 months’ imprisonment.
Lastly, 22 year old Rodwell Tzul was read a single charge of possession of 284 market cleaned conch where each conch did not exceed 3 ounces in weight.
He too pleaded guilty to the offense and was fined $250.00 plus an additional $20 per each unclean conch for a total of $5,935. The Magistrate ordered him to pay these fines by September 2, 2016 in default of payment, 6 months imprisonment.