An American- Belizean who visited his birth country Belize over the Christmas holidays is crying foul after he was allegedly extorted by an Immigration Officer at the Santa Elena Border.
Aladino Flores claims that on Christmas Eve, he, along with his girlfriend of Guatemalan Nationality, took a taxi in Corozal and asked the driver to be taken to the Corozal Commercial Free Zone.
Upon their arrival at the zone, Flores claims that they realized that they did not stop at the Corozal Border for a departure stamp on their passports. Upon returning to the border, the couple informed the immigration officer on duty of what happened earlier. While Flores was advised of the offence he had committed, he is alleging that the officer took advantage of the situation; here is what he told us via telephone this morning.
Aladino Flores– Alleges Extortion
“We didn’t stamped our passport and the by the time we realize we are in the Free Zone and then he says this is a serious matter, a serious crime and he then proceeded and he told me no I am going to let you go because you are Belizean but your girlfriend has to stay here and so she stayed there and I waited until six in the morning and then when I got there he said well I got to talk to you and he said well you this is a big crime, this is a two thousand dollar crime and then we will deport her and then I told him what can I do, I don’t know what to do I can’t leave my girlfriend here I don’t see no offense she is legal she has her passport and I don’t see any offence and the reason why you would do that, it was an honest offence it wasn’t intentionally and then he proceeded and said well talk to me, talk to me, give me a number and if you work with me I will let her go so what you are talking about and he said you know what I am talking about you want to say something here or you want to go to court and pay two thousand dollars and then I said well I don’t know what you are talking about well give me a number and he said what will you if I only charge you fifteen hundred will pay less or more, but of course I want to pay les because I want to come out right now and he then proceeded and said ok well we will do this give me five hundred dollars and I will let her go and then I was scared because my girlfriend was the first time and second day visiting Belize and we were about to get engage in San Pedro and we had everything set up for that date and so I gave him five hundred dollars in cash and he released my girlfriend and so I find this unjust because this is wrong.”
Our call to the Director of Immigration was futile as she is on leave but we did report the matter to the second in charge and were informed that Flores would need to put his complaint in writing and submit it to the Department where the matter will be dealt with. We were also told that the Department of Immigration has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to cases such as the allegations of extortion.
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