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Immigration Officer Monique Escalante charged with extortion of Jamaican immigrant

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2024. 9:45 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Corozal resident Immigration Officer Monique Escalante, 31, has been charged with the extortion of a Jamaican national traveling through the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA).

Escalante, represented by Audrey Matura, is alleged to have unlawfully demanded under cover of her duties as an Immigration Department officer some US$3,000 or BZ$6,000 from one Jahnoi Shaun-Dhee Richards of Jamaica.

Escalante was set bail of $8,000 and a surety and ordered to surrender her travel documents to the Clerk of Court; not apply for any other traveling documents without seeking permission of the court; not to leave the country without the permission of the court; not to contact the virtual complainant or any of his family members or any other prosecution witnesses whether directly or indirectly; not to be within 50 feet of the complainant and must report to the Raccoon Street Police Station every Friday beginning on Good Friday, March 29.

According to attorney Audrey Matura, the Department appears to making her client a scapegoat and further investigation is needed of the alleged ring of hustling by officers at the Airport of which her client is not a part.

She alleged that Richards did not report the extortion until five days after he arrived in the country, and only after he was stopped while trying to leave Belize through the northern border at Mexico, which was two days before he claimed he was scheduled to leave Belize on March 22.

Matura further added that what’s also concerning is that her client is the most junior Immigration Officer based at the Airport, and when a junior Immigration Officer is vetting persons, the go-ahead of a superior officer is needed.

Richards told police that on that Friday afternoon at the Airport, he was told to put his money inside his passport and questioned as to his financial means. Fearing he would be detained, he put the US$3,000 in $100 bills concealed in the passport. The incident was reportedly captured on surveillance cameras inside the Airport. Other officers were detained, interviewed and later released.

 

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