MS-13 gang members detained in Belize; police ask people to report any suspicious activities

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022


On Monday, May 9th, the Belize Police Department intercepted and arrested members of the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha 13 or MS-13 in Belize. Four of these gangsters have been arrested, with the last one picked up on Friday, May 6th. As a result, police are on high alert, and their presence in certain areas across the country, like in the Cayo district, has intensified. The public should contact the police if they see any suspicious persons or activity.

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According to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, particular areas by the western border are under heightened surveillance. Members of the immigration department and customs are assisting them. The Minister of Home Affairs, also in charge of police, the Honourable Kareem Musa, said Belize has very porous borders, and security forces need to work closely with the communities. This will help the police do a more efficient job of getting information and intelligence on the whereabouts of these individuals within the country.

Some of these gang members have reportedly made it to communities like Salvapan and Maya Mopan on the outskirts of the capital city of Belmopan in the Cayo District. The detained MS-13 members are currently locked up at the Belize Central Prison, awaiting deportation.

With the crackdown on gangs by the government of El Salvador, which has seen over 25,000 gang members arrested to date, many of them are fleeing to other Central American countries. On March 27th, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele declared a “state of emergency” following a spike in gang violence. As a result, major crimes have dwindled significantly in that county, to the point where no homicides were reported over the past days. Before the state of emergency, there were several murders every day, and extortion was rampant. Although this move by Bukele’s government has reduced the violence, according to reports, some businesses continue paying ‘rent’ (extortion) to gang groups.

In the meantime, the Belize Police Department and other agencies are acting decisively as it is a considerable concern that MS-13 members were detained in the country. The public is asked to contact their nearest police station if they suspect any of these gang elements are in their neighborhood or community.


 

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