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Guatemalan Illegal Fisher Pleads Guilty to More Crimes Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 00:00

Guatemalan Georgina Maribel Mendez Aldana, 49, has been back and forth to court since she was busted on Monday morning, February 17th, with thousands of sea cucumbers. Last week she pleaded guilty to two counts of employing a person not in possession of a valid employment permit after she was caught with 52-year-old Hugo Rolando Orellana Salas and 22-year-old Cesar Gerardo Hichos Ramirez who claim she is their boss. Aldana paid a fine of over $2,000 for that offense.

Aldana was immediately rearrested after paying the fine and charged along with her workers for engaging in commercial fishing without a valid Fisherman’s License; attempting to export fish without a valid fish exporter’s license and engaging in the fishing of Sea cucumbers without a special license. She pleaded not guilty in court before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton on Tuesday, February 18th, and the case was adjourned for Monday, February 24th, so she can gain legal representation. Aldana reappeared in court on Monday, February 24th, to answer to the fisheries offenses and was additionally charged for possession of a false document. She is alleged to have presented a fake Belize Fisheries Department Exporters License at the time of the search knowing that it was forged and not genuine. In court, Aldana pleaded guilty to the offense and changed her plea from not guilty to guilty on the charge of engaging in commercial fishing without a valid Fisherman’s License. 

In mitigation, her attorney Bryan Neal asked the court to take into consideration the fact that his client pleaded guilty and saved the court time; has no previous conviction for the offenses in Belize or elsewhere and that she was not caught physically engaging in the fishing of sea cucumbers. Magistrate Hamilton took Neal’s plea into consideration and took into account the remorse expressed by Aldana when she fined her $500 for fishing without a license and $6,000 for possession of a false document. Hamilton chose not to sentence Aldana to two years imprisonment for forging a Fisherman’s License.
Her two employees who were charged jointly with her were also fined $500 for the offense of engaging in commercial fishing without a license. They all were ordered to pay the fines immediately or serve time in prison. None of them were able to pay their fines and as a result they are all in the Belize Central Prison.