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Police detain their own civilian exhibit keeper in investigation of mass marijuana sickening at Saint Luke Methodist

Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2023. 9:27 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Tonight, the exhibit keeper for the Belize Police Department is in very hot water with his bosses, after a decision to discard marijuana edibles that started to smell led to more than 30 sick children in a day at Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa said in an interview today that that individual is facing not only possible termination from the Police’s service but also potential criminal charges.

Here is how he described the trail that led to Tuesday’s happenings: “It is an issue that originated, as I understand it, with the Customs Department who turned over the suspected cannabis. I think at the point of entry, it was classified as suspected cannabis edibles, turned it over to the Anti-Narcotics Unit who thereafter turned it over to the exhibit keeper. The decision of discarding the product [that the Customs Department confiscated], and as I understand it, he is saying to the police that he discarded it because of the scent that it was giving off within the exhibit room. As I understand it, he discarded it at the dump on the [George Price] Highway at which point individuals who were at the dumpsite found the discarded material and thereafter took it to the children and sold it to the children at the school.”

After offering prayers for the recovery of the 38 persons sickened so far, Musa turned his fire on the exhibit keeper’s actions: “I am extremely, extremely disappointed in the actions of this particular exhibit keeper because he has been employed with the department for the last ten years. And so it cannot be that he is not aware of the procedures [to] be followed when discarding substances that are held as exhibits. For one, this is an active investigation that was awaiting results from the forensics department and so it doesn’t matter what you were smelling inside your exhibit room. You have no authority to then take it upon yourself, without consulting the prosecutor, without consulting the Commissioner of Police, and then to discard potential evidence in a criminal case. And so that, definitely, is very concerning and, as I said, that could result in subsequent charges for this officer because the procedure, normally, is that you must first consult the head of the department, the commander, rather, and in this case the commander of Prosecutions [Branch] is Alifa Elrington.”

As for secondary persons detained by Police, Musa said it would have to be proven that they knew that what they were selling contained marijuana, and the charge would be at the minimum possession of controlled substances and at maximum drug trafficking if more than 60 grams of the substance was involved. A reported 37 packages have been recovered of a suspected 237 have reportedly been recovered.

Musa said there was nothing to suggest Elrington had anything to do with discarding the items or ordering such discarding, and so it appears the individual acted “on a frolic of his own.”

The investigation continues and charges will be decided on in a few days’ time. Police are busy obtaining statements from the sickened children and adults, some of whom have already been publicly describing their reactions to the press.

A Police Sergeant has been placed in charge of the Exhibit Room while the exhibit keeper is on administrative leave.


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