Last week the US Embassy sponsored a workshop to tackle the booming Trafficking in Persons issue in Belize. The workshop was facilitated by a group from North Carolina called Eagles Wings Ministries who delved on topics from prostitution, human trafficking and exploitation of woman and children. And while authorities seem to place a ‘blind eye’ on the issue of ‘happy bars’ in municipalities around Belize, one such authority figure finds himself in the spotlight again. The highly criticized Commander of the GSU Mark Flowers remains in the hot seat as a letter being circulated on social media pins Flowers on allegations of “attempted smuggling of illegal immigrants.” The letter, written by Immigration Officer Ruby Hoare and directed to Officer In Charge Sharon Frazer, outlines an incident that occurred on May 31st in 2009. The letter states that around 11:00am on the 31st of May 2009, Officer Hoare was informed by Officers Elick Chan and Teresita Kotch who were working on the arrival section of four persons acting suspiciously. According to the report, two of the individuals, who appeared to be Mennonites, proceeded to the Belize Border and passed the check point while the others walked towards a brown wagon type car in which they placed their luggage, got in the vehicle and drove off towards the border.
According to Hoare’s report, upon reaching the border station, the vehicle came to a stop and a male occupant excited the vehicle and walked towards the Immigration Arrival Section while the vehicle with its remaining passengers continued traveling towards the checkpoint. This is when Officer Hoare instructed Officer Chan to intercept the vehicle since its passengers failed to present themselves. Hoare states that she approached the vehicle after noticing that Chan was having trouble communicating with its passengers and that is when she saw that the vehicle was being driven by Sergeant Mark Flowers who was at that time attached to the San Ignacio Police Station. According to Hoare’s report the vehicle was occupied by (3) Salvadorans namely 2 Females and 1 male who Flowers was attempting to drive across the border.
The individuals were then escorted inside the BWBS building where they were interviewed by immigration personnel. In the four pages of recorded statements, it states that when authorities question Flowers on what he was going and doing, he stated that he was simply giving the individuals “a ride”. Immigration Officer, Ruby Hoare then alerted Flowers that the matter would be reported to her Supervisor and officer in Charge, in this case, Sharon Flowers. The release ends stating that Mark Flowers knew exactly what he was doing since he let out one of his passengers (the only one with a work permit) at the checkpoint to stamp his passport. The persons in question are Salvadorans; Guillermo Antonio Otero, Elba Mendoza Casteneda, Henry Antonio Casteneda and Norma Eleticia Corado.
So what does Flowers have to say about this latest allegation lodged against him? Well, in an interview with Belize City media he stated and we quote “There is no such thing and that ascertain my friend how you come about saying you have documentation, there never was such case. I know of a case where during an operation that I was involved in and I can’t readily give all the details because of the sensitivity of the case. But I don’t know about any Salvadoran being smuggled. There is no such thing. There is no truth to that. There was a certain time where I had to bring certain people into the country who are now in prison. And it is that time I know when there was some concerns. That was a legitimate police business. I will not go further than that but I will say that whatever your assertions are, are untrue.” end of quote.
|< Prev||Next >|