Yesterday, we showed you the testimony by former Immigration Officer Supervisor Mark Tench who had discovered that 8 visa foils went missing from the Western Border in December 2012. In his testimony, Tench explained how he was able to do an investigation which led to persons in Belize City, Orange Walk and Corozal and then pointed fingers back to the Immigration Department. In the afternoon, another witness, former Immigration Supervisor Vernon Leslie, also sat before the Committee. Leslie has been at the Department for 30 years and is near retirement and he explained that although it was expected that he takes command of the situation, he believes the Commanding Officer Edgar Cano should have put his vacation on hold to deal with the matter.


Screen_Shot_2017-03-02_at_7.57.40_PMVernon Leslie – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“When they were established that they were missing by officer Tench he reported it to me and of course I was very hurt by that because of the direct attack against the station and became very concerned and I communicated this incident immediately as we are trained to do, because we are reporting officers and immediately when Mr. Tench informed me and established that these VISA foils were missing, immediately I contacted the Substantive Port Commander, Mr. Edgar Cano, about the incident and I beseeched him to intervene return from vacation because he was right there in Cayo ten minutes away in San Ignacio to be specific, I beseech Port Commander Cano to return and come off, very concerning matter going on here please come on and give us some intervention or some guidance or some directives and he merely replied, I am on vacation you guys deal with it and honestly Chairman and Senators I was really disappointed by that response.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“I got the impression this morning that you were the officer in charged at that time whilst Mr. Cano was on vacation?”

 

Senator Dr. Carla Barnette – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Can I just be clear though because, whenever an officer proceeds on leave somebody is identified if not to act or to hold over as officer in charged because you cannot leave the office without anybody in charged so were you the person who was left as Officer in Charged in the absence of Mr. Cano?”


Vernon Lesley – FormerSenior Immigration Officer Western Border


“Mr. Cano proceeded on leave, leaving the four of us supervisors to hang in there so there was no official, no written, nothing written madam.”


Senator Dr. Carla Barnette – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“So there was nothing written to say who was the person in charged?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“I was never in charged”


Senator Dr. Carla Barnette – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Tench certainly thinks you were in charged another people probably do so we leave at that.”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“Maybe he doesn’t realize the protocol but I do I being a Senior person not a Senior Officer but a Senior person in the department, right, I knew what the protocols are and he has to come to grip with the situation…anyway I was never left in charged.”


Senator Dr. Carla Barnette – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“You called Mr. Cano and you said he didn’t respond, why did you not involved your Director?”


Vernon Lesley – Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“Because mom, there is a different levels of reporting, I cannot go directly to the Director…”


Senator Dr. Carla Barnette – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“But you are the Senior person and if your person immediately above you who is on leave and when you are on leave he has no, although you might think he, this is boxing day, although you might think it would be correct and proper for him to come he didn’t and it’s an urgent situation as you mentioned so why not call the Director?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“I can safely say, I didn’t expect the man to react like that...”


Senator Dr. Carla Barnette – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“I know and I understand…”

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