Posted: Saturday, April 29, 2023. 11:08 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: 38-year-old Mario Bustillos of Orange Walk Town, currently on administrative leave from the Belize Police Department where he worked as national exhibit keeper, has been charged with 10 counts of negligent harm of a minor to which he pleaded not guilty.
Bustillos is accused of causing certain police exhibits – candy laced with marijuana – to be disposed of only to see them reintroduced into society where they ended up causing harm to multiple minors.
Bustillos is represented by defense counsel Darrell Bradley, who put it to the court that the items as deposited in the exhibit room were not labelled and were brought in garbage bags and simply left there, and that in the past when items such as this were brought in and left for a while, they would be thrown out because they literally stunk the place up.
But Commissioner of Police Chester Williams maintains that Bustillos knew that the position is that he needed to contact the head of the Prosecution Branch Alifa Elrington, who would have sought his permission to dispose of the items. In this case, he would have said no as the matter to which the items were tied is still under investigation, and would have directed how to store the items and later dispose of them at the right time.
With no objection, bail was set at $7,000 subject to conditions. Bustillos must report to Orange Walk Police Station every Monday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and stay away from any victim or prosecution witness and not leave the jurisdiction without the permission of the court.
Bustillos next appears before Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman on June 27.
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