Plane busted with over two tons of cocaine


Belizean law enforcement have successfully intercepted a drug plane that was carrying 1,210 parcels of cocaine, with an estimated weight of over 2,500 pounds. six men: four Hondurans, a Mexican, and an Ecuadorian have been charged with drug trafficking. An aircraft, a King Air 200, has also been removed from the illegal landing zone where it touched down, to a more secure location.
69-year-old Mexican national of Tamaulipas, Mexico who is a retired pilot, Miguel Cruz Meseguer along with David Noe Orellano Discua, 30, a Honduran Businessman; Carlos Humberto Henriquez Gomez, a 51-year-old Honduran of San Pedro Sula; Businessman, Juan Pablo Larea Cruz, 43, of Ecuador, Commercial Pilot; and two others who were not present in court: Allan Yovani Mejia Chirnos, 31, a Honduran Businessman of San Pedro Sula, and 50-year-old Norlan Jose Carrasco Lopez, Honduran of San Pedro Sula, Honduras and a Businessman were arraigned.
The four men were taken in a police van with heavy security and within seconds, were taken into Court #3 where they appeared before Senior Magistrate, Tricia Pitts- Anderson.
None of the men were represented in court and they were all charged jointly with one count of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply to, 1,341.3 kilograms of cocaine packed into 41.
The retired Mexican Pilot, Meseguer and the Commerical Pilot, Ecuadoran, Cruz were additional charged with abetment to the importation of a controlled drug and landing an aircraft without the permission of the Minister of Aviation.
No plea taken from the men, and the court provided them with a Spanish Translator so they could interpret the court proceedings at their arraignment. The only English-speaking person today was the Ecuadoran.
In court, Senior Magistrate, Tricia Pitts-Anderson ensured that the men understood the charge read to them. She explained that the charges will be dealt with on indictment and as such, orders can only come from the Director of Public Prosecutions Office.
After the charges were read to them, one of the four men said, “We do understand the charge but we do not accept.”
The men were then remanded until November 12, 2019. The other two Honduran nationals, who were unable to be present, are hospitalized at the KHMH under police guard.
Police Commissioner Chester Williams hosted a press conference on Monday, September 9th, to share a few details about the joint law enforcement operation which led to this successful interdiction.
?On Sunday, September 8th, Belizean authorities received intelligence of a tracked aircraft that left Venezuela and was most likely heading to Belize. As a result, members of the security forces mobilized to different aerodromes. These are facilities that are legal such as an airport or a municipal airstrip, or illegal, such as those airstrips built in secluded areas to transport illicit cargo across borders. The Belizean security forces wanted to be thorough since information of its exact landing zone was not known, and the authorities were doing their best to intercept the drug plane before its cargo was offloaded.
?Sometime around 12:18 a.m. on Monday, the Belizean security forces spotted an aircraft landing at an illegal airstrip off the Coastal Road in the Southern Belize District. They quietly allowed it to land. As soon as the pilot turned off the engine, the law enforcement teams moved in to intercept them. Two vehicles, one with Honduras license plates, and another with no license plates, immediately approached the aircraft, and men began to off-load the cargo. Before they could make any meaningful progress, the lawmen moved and intercepted the plane and its occupants. One of the vehicles managed to escape the location, but a law enforcement team immediately set chase.
?The lawmen who remained behind immediately came under hostile fire from the smugglers, and they were forced to defend themselves. Two of the fleeing suspects were injured to the hand. All those at the illegal landing zone were then apprehended, and the two suspects were rushed to the KHMH for medical treatment.
?Scenes of Crimes personnel were called in, and they collected whatever evidence they could gather about the aircraft. The entire cargo was unloaded, and the officers counted 41 bales of cocaine. They were then transported to Belize City, where the actual cataloging took place.
?Shortly after the lawmen departed the illegal landing zone, they received information that a third person was injured by gunshots and that he was in the bushes. The Belizean lawmen went back to the location, and they found that man with pellet injuries to the abdomen. He indicated to the authorities that one of his own colleagues shot him, while that person was attempting to escape. He was also rushed to the KHMH for treatment, and he was admitted in a stable condition.
?The operation was successful on all fronts, and saluting the officers involved, Police Commissioner Chester Williams said, “I want to applaud all the members of the security forces who were involved in this operation. I believe that it was well planned and well-coordinated, hence the reason it yielded the success that it did.”
?These six men are expected to be arrested and charged on drug trafficking offenses, as well as others for the illegal landing of the plane. The street value and total quantity of cocaine are still being determined.