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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Belize



Challenges:  Belize is a major transshipment point for cocaine and precursor chemicals used in the production of illicit drugs. Belize is susceptible to the transshipment of illegal drugs due to its position along the Central American isthmus between the United States and drug producing countries in South America. Large stretches of unpopulated jungles on its borders with Guatemala and a relatively unpatrolled coastline that includes hundreds of small islands and atolls makes it difficult to conduct interdictions. Remote jungles provide a hospitable environment for the growing and transferring of cannabis. Belize is bordered by countries where the drug trade is controlled by well- organized and extremely violent drug cartels.

Belize society generally tolerates the use of cannabis, though the police enforce the laws criminalizing it. The National Drug Abuse Control Council (NDACC) reported that there was an increase in the use of marijuana in 2013, while “crack” cocaine remained the second most abused drug. Synthetic drugs are not widely used or manufactured in Belize, but are trafficked through the country, along with their chemical precursors.

Despite enhanced efforts by the Belize Coast Guard (BCG) and the Anti-Drug Unit (ADU) to monitor coastal waters, both organizations continued to be hampered by limited funds, equipment, and lack of personnel. Belize‘s counternarcotics efforts are adversely affected by corruption, deficiencies in intelligence gathering and analysis, an antiquated judicial sector, and a lack of political will.

Goals:  INL programs seek to increase citizen security by addressing the broader justice sector in Belize in accordance with the CARSI regional strategy. In Belize, INL aims to professionalize the Belizean Police Department, increase community involvement, establish an elite cadre of police, strengthen Belize’s ability to secure its borders, and counter criminal gangs by engaging youth and other anti-gang activities. We expect these objectives to increase security and rule of law, which impacts all Belizean citizens.

Accomplishments:

  • The Government of Belize implemented some successful initiatives to improve citizen security in 2013, often with U.S. assistance. Through September, the murder rate in Belize decreased by 24 percent from 2012, with a decrease in the overall major crime rate of 11 percent.
  • Since December 2012, the United States has assisted the Government of Belize (GOB) in establishing a Mobile Interdiction Team (MIT). The team includes members of the country’s Immigration and Nationality Department, Customs and Excise Department, and Police Department, and its mission is to interdict narcotics at ports of entry along Belize’s roads, highways and border crossings throughout the border regions. The MIT made a significant impact in curbing the illegal smuggling operations of transnational criminal organizations in 2013.



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