Tourism Paradise For Drugs & Human Trafficking Belize

Posted on July 29, 2010


A DEA map that came to our attention reveals San Pedro and other water-accessed locations in Belize are stopover depots for drugs, mostly cocaine, en route from South America to the US. What’s bad about the San Pedro situation is that ORT already red- flagged it for a concentration of bars featuring human trafficking victims.

It’s important that travelers know there were 100 drug-related murders in Belize last year.  We think travelers considering a holiday in Belize should know that.

We haven’t changed tracks, no. We are expanding our Belize tourism boycott to include an anti-drug trafficking awareness drive, complementing our founding anti-human trafficking cause. We feel responsible tourists want to know that Belize, and in particular San Pedro, are dangerous double offenders.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye welcomed drug boats last year to its island landings.  The island and the Town of San Pedro don’t limit themselves to just receiving the coke and sending it off to the next group in the wholesale chain. There is plenty of dangerous crime spillover from the drug trade in San Pedro Ambergris Caye.

We’ve mentioned in other postings the general level of corruption that pervades San Pedro Ambergris Caye. I remind you here that the Mayor Elsa Paz is a corrupt politician who dispenses liquor licenses on the island like she was selling warm bread – all for a price. Then there’s Bid Daddy’s, which she co-owns with her brother. It’s a hub for selling human trafficking victims and drug dealing. The police are frequent customers and also get their cut for turning a blind eye to the dealings that go on there.  They also provide “private” security for the place.  Most of the time they don’t even bother to change out of their uniforms.

Remember, San Pedro Ambergris Caye, population 12,000, features 90 ficha bars where human trafficking victims are on offer in forced prostitution. On-premises prostitution carries a fine of $50 (Belize) for bar owners. Last year and the year before and the year before that there was not a single instance of bar owners fined for the offence. You do the math.

Superintendent Dennis Arnold, who’s in charge of policing the area, runs a strange cop shop. For example, letting his staff hang out to protect the Mayor’s bar and all of its activities, human trafficking included.   He is also not immune to the lure of “overtime” pay. His Anti-Drugs Unit works in mysterious ways.

The actions of the San Pedro Anti-Drugs Unit do not follow accepted police protocol. Last year the unit, claiming information from a local resident, were tipped off to a 25-kilogram cocaine find with a street value of $500,000 (Belize). Five men were killed in the aftermath. The drugs disappeared along with the money. There has been no follow-up investigation of the drug and money disappearances.

Further spillover of drug-related crime into the San Pedro area involved torture, gunfire and murder for small time operators who got caught by higher-level dealers. At least, on the surface that is what appears to have happened. Given the level of corruption in the community, it’s hard to know which bad guys did what to these small-time players.    To-date, there are no arrests and no convictions related to this matter.


In any case, we are amplifying our warning to tourists and potential travelers to Belize, and in particular, San Pedro Ambergris Caye. Corruption, by the Mayor and Police Superintendent, supports it as a human trafficking hub and a drug-crime zone. Going to Belize, especially San Pedro, is not recommended for those interested in their personal safety and those concerned with the pain of human trafficking victims. Thinking and responsible travelers will not go there.

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