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Business Insider: Cocaine piles up in Belize as drug production rises in Columbia

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Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2019. 11:33 am CST.

By BBN Staff: A report from Business Insider published on September 27, 2019 is stating that cocaine is ‘piling up in a quiet corner of Central America’ [Belize] as the drug production increases in Columbia.

Business Insider says that the series of drug busts underscores Belize’s central location for drug trafficking through Central America.

“Belize’s law-enforcement capacity is limited, making it an ideal transit country for smugglers traveling by air and sea,” it noted.

In addition, it states that despite the limited capabilities of authorities, there has been a number of recent drug busts, underscoring that Belize is grappling with a surge in cocaine moving north from Colombia.

In a sting operation last month, authorities confiscated 1,210 parcels of cocaine from an aircraft that took off from Venezuela and landed off the Coastal Highway near the village of La Democracia.

After a shootout, six people were arrested: four from Honduras, one from Mexico, and one from Ecuador.

Business Insider referenced the 23 kilos of cocaine found in March on a beach at Northern Ambergris Caye.

At the time, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said he believed the cocaine was part of a larger shipment.

“Belize is a transshipment route for drugs. Gangs are fighting to be in charge of moving the drugs through Belize,” Gen. Steven Ortega, commander of the Belize Defense Force (BDF), said to Diálogo.

The report also affirmed that though reporting is lacking, figures of drug seizures show a steep rise.

Information from the US State Department indicated that in 2018, authorities confiscated about a ton of cocaine from aircraft across the country, which represented the first seizures on this scale in eight years.

Belize is mentioned as a significant transit country of illegal drugs that originate from South America in the US State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

 In 2011, the country was added to the US “blacklist” of major drug transit countries, and it has remained on the list since.

Business Insider says that Colombia’s cocaine production is higher than ever, and routes through Central America are seeing an increase in shipments reflecting this trend.

Guatemala has witnessed a growing number of flights carrying drugs, while Honduras too has seen an increased flow of drugs.

“Belize is an ideal transit country for cocaine shipments, receiving drugs from Honduras, Colombia, and Venezuela through small aircraft and go-fast boats. The drugs then make their way northward to the United States through Mexico,” it further explains.

With relation to Belize’s air defense, the report says that the country’s anti-narcotics capabilities are lacking with no surveillance radar systems, making it difficult to track drug flights.

“Its coast guard has been dependent on the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which has provided major assistance by financing 70% of its fleet and training most of its officers, ” the report concludes.

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