Big Scores for Customs - Container of Contraband Hauled in and stolen and an uncustomed bullet proof ride found Print E-mail
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Thursday, 29 April 2010 00:00

The Customs Department is celebrating two major detections as a container of contraband goods was found and a bullet proof Toyota Land Cruiser was found in the Faber’s Road area in Belize City. The contraband goods came in under the name of a company operating out of the Corozal Free Zone, Pier One Import and Export Company Limited. On Monday, April 26, the Customs Department in Belize City flagged the container to be inspected at the Customs’ examination shed. By all indications,

after an hour and a half inspection, it was found that the shipment contained bags, uniforms and other apparel.

All appeared normal for the container and it was dispatched from the shed to the Corozal Free Zone. A Customs guard was assigned to escort the container along with another one. And that is where the story begins to hit a grey area. When the first container, accompanied by the Customs guard, arrived at the northern border, the guard reported that the second container, the one which had been flagged earlier in the day, was about half an hour behind. The problem, however, is that the second container never made it to the northern border. All necessary checks were made and it was verified that the second container had never made it to its destination, the Corozal Free Zone; it had been diverted before it arrived.

Quick work by the investigations unit at the Customs Department would later turn up the container and it was brought back to Belize City where a thorough inspection was made on it. Nothing unusual was detected and the container is now being treated as one which was destined not to pay import duties. The Customs Department is now seeking the individual who brought in the documentation to have the container entries processed. He is being looked at along with the Customs guard who may have been negligent in not ensuring that the container made it to the Free Zone.

In speaking with the Customs Department’s Colin Griffith, he explained to the Guardian that the matter is being looked upon strictly as a contraband issue as no illegal or illicit material was found in the container either before it left Belize City or after another search was done when it came back. The value of the contents of the container is some 48 thousand dollars with a payable duty of 18 thousand dollars. Work is now being carried out to find the broker who did the container’s paper works. Under the law, if found guilty of contraband, the guilty party can be fined three times the value of the goods, plus duty.

And while the container is a big hit for the Customs, they are also reporting that a bullet proof 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser was found in Belize City. For a year now the Customs Department has been looking for the vehicle with license plate number Bz C-28466. On March 23, the vehicle was spotted in a yard in the Farber’s Road Extension area of Belize City. Closer inspection revealed that the vehicle was the one being sought and it was brought into the Customs where further investigations revealed that it had been illegally registered in Belize City since it had not paid any duties. Cross referencing of the vehicles’ VIN verified that it had been stolen in Guatemala in 2006.

What is interesting about the vehicle is that it is heavily armored. All the doors appear to be heavily fortified including the glass which appears to have some additional reinforcement, leading Customs investigators to believe that it is an armored vehicle. The front and rear view windshields also have appearances of being fortified along with the back door of the vehicle.

For now, the Customs is concentrating its efforts in determining who brought in the vehicle. The reason for the fortification of it is still unknown.