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Discussions over the disappearance of 8 visa foils from the Immigration Office at the Western Border back in December 2012 – over four years ago – took center stage at today’s Senate Select Committee hearing with the person who discovered that the visas had gone missing, former Border Supervisor Mark Tench, giving details under Oath.

Tench, who said that he had reported to work on the morning of Boxing Day, December 26th 2012, only to find out that their security had been breached, explained to the Committee what happened next.


Chairman Aldo Salazar – Special Senate Select Committee


“Can you give us your account of what transpired, is this correct?”


Screen_Shot_2017-03-01_at_6.58.28_PMMark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“Most of it yes, on the 26th of December which was Boxing Day, I was the supervisor on shift and I came to work with two other officers, Requena and Crawford, and upon entering the door, six o’clock we shift over from the night person, there is one night person who works there and there was a gentleman who wanted to buy a VISA and I went to the cabinet and took out the VISA foils that was in there with the VISA book and upon checking the last number on the VISA book it was not corresponding with the numbers in the foil and so I  looked through the things and thought it was maybe placed randomly the VISA foils which are on a sheet, four to a sheet, and we get normally a hundred and they come in bunch of twenties in a folder and I thought maybe it was just placed randomly wrong and I search the remaining sheets and could not find them and I called the two officers who was working with me, Ms. Crawford and Requena and showed them and we went through over it again and then I came to the realization that VISAS were missing, I picked up the phone and I call Mr. Cano as the OIC and I explained to him the situation, Mr. Cano didn’t tell me anything and I just gave my report when he done he told me thanks.”


Officer Tench said that his superior Edgar Cano eventually directed that they carry out an investigation, but it wasn’t until a few weeks after key information was obtained from Belmopan Port Commander George Reynolds, who had been visited by Patrick Tillett in relation to visas which he claimed to have gotten from an agent but which had not been issued properly. Tench testified that he contacted Tillett and they agreed to meet at the Calypso restaurant in Belize City. Here’s his account of how that meeting helped unravel a suspected visa ring within the Immigration Department.


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“When we walked up to the Calypso restaurant we met Mr. Tillette and with his was Mr. Chang, Eric Chang who was the Deputy Mayor of Belize City at the time if I am not mistaken.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Did anybody explain the purpose of Mr. Chang being there?”


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“Well Mr. Chang informed us that he was the one who was getting the VISAS for some people and that they had bought it through a person and then they had realized that the VISAS were not valid and that is why they had taken it to Belmopan office. They couldn’t tell us the person the person that they bought it from they only had a nickname for the person.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“What was the nickname?”


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“I can’t remember but what they did know was that he was one at the time that they had; what they wanted us to help them get back their money that was why they chose to meet with us, they wanted to see if we could help them get back their money that they had lost through that deal that they had made.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Do you know the amount of money?”


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“According to them it was five thousand dollars per VISA.”


That other person mentioned by Tillett is no other than Eric Chang, who was then the UDP Belize City Council Deputy Mayor.  Tench said that Chang told him that he was the one who was trading visas. This discussion led their investigation to Orange Walk.


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“What they wanted us to help them get back their money that was why they chose to meet with us, they wanted to see if we could help them get back their money that they had lost through that deal that they had made.”

Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Do you know the amount of money?”


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“According to them it was five thousand dollars per VISA.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“So you met with Eric Chang and Patrick Tillette at Calypso?”


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“Yes”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“And they told you that they bought the VISAS from somebody who had a nickname but you can’t recall at this time?”

 

Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“Yes, but I can’t remember the nickname and he also told us that one of the time that they had met with the person he was with an female immigration officer, that was Mr. Tillette, he doesn’t know the officer by name.”


And that led to one more piece of the missing visas puzzle – an individual only known by surname Middleton and an officer identified as Inez Cassanova from here in Orange Walk. Tench said they set off on a mission to talk to Middleton and that led them to an individual only known as Gadaffi in Corozal and then back to their very own Department.

 

Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


“Mr. Middleton told us that he did sell the VISAS but that he had gotten them from another person who lived in Corozal, I don’t know he persons’ real name but I know we would call him Gadaffi, I used to work in Corozal so I knew the individual and we took Mr. Middleton with us and we went to Corozal and we went to gentleman’s house Gadaffi and he pulled aside and he told me that because I knew him from when I worked at that border and he pulled aside and he told me he only assisted Mr. Middleton selling the VISAS but Mr. Middleton was the one who was the brains behind this operation but we had to gone all the way to Corozal to find that out and that is when I confronted it with the other officers and then he decided that he will tell us the officer that he didn’t knew that officer had taken him but he knew that officer that he had gotten them from.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Who is that?”


Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border


Mr. L. Wade.”

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