…Authorities Faces Criticism for Ignoring Established Cartel Presence Despite Recent High-Level Talks
By: Omar Silva, Editor, National Perspective Belize
Belize City: Friday, 25th August 2023
In the midst of a growing concern over cartel infiltration within Belize's borders, the local law enforcement and national security agencies are facing accusations of either turning a blind eye or being in denial about the gravity of the situation. Despite the release of the so-called Sicario Seven, the Belizean government seems to be overlooking the fact that cartel operatives have already established a strong presence within the country.
Addressing this deeply rooted issue requires more than superficial measures. Before embarking on any meaningful endeavor to thwart the cartel's grip on Belize, it is imperative for the authorities to first acknowledge the existence of Belizean cartel mules who are deeply entrenched in the operations. This acknowledgement must be coupled with the establishment of a competent intelligence team, equipped with the acumen to uncover these secretive networks and dismantle them from within.
Recent weeks saw a high-level meeting between officials from Belize and Mexico, convened in Mexico City, to confront the pressing concerns of drug trafficking and the increasing presence of Sinaloa cartels along the Belize-Mexico border. However, focusing solely on the Sinaloa cartel might be a misstep. Belize is also facing the insidious intrusion of the Jalisco’s Nueva Generacion and the Caborca Cartel, both of which have established connections and facilitators within Belizean territories.
Reports have surfaced indicating that these criminal organizations are brazenly making demands of individuals crossing the border, effectively operating right under the noses of local authorities. Kareem Musa, the Home Affairs Minister, while unable to share the specifics of the recent high-level meeting, recognized the pressing need to prevent cartel agents from entering Belize. The emphasis should be on cutting off the cartels' local connections and thwarting their point men from gaining a foothold in the country.
In the wake of this meeting, concerns are growing about whether Belizean authorities are truly comprehending the scale of the infiltration issue. Belize's Police Commissioner has expressed reservations about gaining full control over cartel activities that are creeping across the border. While Belize has managed to maintain a certain level of immunity from the rampant cartel activities in neighboring countries like Honduras and Guatemala, illicit landings remain a recurrent challenge.
One prevailing issue contributing to this vulnerability is the breach of confidentiality within Belize's intelligence teams. Unlike other countries in the region, where effective communication and collaboration exist between military forces, Belize has faced internal challenges in maintaining a secure and united front against cartel activities. Despite these hurdles, the Belizean government recently affirmed its commitment to fortifying borders, particularly in regions like Corozal, and intensifying efforts to combat the cartel's influence.
The question remains: Is the Belizean government merely in denial, failing to grasp the gravity of the infiltration, or is this a strategic distraction from tackling the issue head-on? While complete eradication of the cartel presence might be an ambitious goal, the efforts and attention invested by Belize's authorities will undoubtedly shape the country's ability to secure its borders and protect its citizens in the face of this pressing challenge.