There was hostile contact between the Belize Defence Force Soldiers and 2 Guatemalan men inside the Chiquibul National Park. BDF soldiers had to shoot a man in self defence because he was firing at them.
It happened on Thursday, March 3 in an area of the Chiquibul known as “Cebada”. On a recent fly-over reconnaissance mission, the BDF and the Friends for Conservation and Development spotted several new marijuana plantations popping up along the Western Border, inside Belizean territory. Several BDF soldiers and FCD rangers went in on Thursday on foot, and they managed to destroy 2 of these plantations without incident. When they were traveling through the area, they ended up spotting a third which had a thatched hut on it. This location was about 600 meters in Belizean territory. The law enforcement team approached this hut and they heard the sound of voices coming from inside. The joint-patrol members then had to take cover after someone fired a handgun from inside. They then identified themselves as law enforcement, and fired a shot in the air as warning to these persons. A few moments later, a man reportedly came running out of the hut, and he was armed with a 9mm pistol. That man took aim at the BDF and fired another shot, and that’s when the soldiers were forced to respond with gunfire.
This man, later identified as 51 year-old Francisco Torres Sucup, a resident of San Francisco Peten, Guatemala, was shot in the leg, and he collapsed to the ground. Shortly after that, a companion of his, later identified as 56 year-old Guatemalan Luis Dias Alballeros, a resident of Santa Ana, Peten, ran out of the thatched structure with a shotgun. The patrol managed to subdue him without any more gunfire because they had the area surrounded.
The law enforcement team then confiscated the weapons, a 9mm pistol and a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, and 9mm pistol. They searched the hut and found 15 live twelve-gauge cartridges, and 24 live rounds of 9mm ammunition, all of which were illegal in Belize. The BDF then escorted the two men out, and they had to carry Francisco Sucup all the way out of the area due to his gunshot injury to the leg. After traveling for almost 2 days, the patrol members made it to the San Ignacio Police Station where the two men were handed over to the police.
Francisco Sucup was transported to the San Ignacio Hospital, and later to the KHMH, where he received medical treatment. He and Luis Alballeros have been charged with immigration offences, and they’ve been remanded to the Belize Central Prison. Police haven’t specified as yet, but they could be facing additional charges for the illegal weapons and ammunition, the shooting, and the marijuana plantation that they were found on.
Reports are that the OAS has been called in to verify the facts of this incident, as part of the confidence building measures.