HomeNewsBriefBelize Govt Fails to Prosecute Alleged Meth Chemical Trafficker
BRIEF

Belize Govt Fails to Prosecute Alleged Meth Chemical Trafficker

BELIZE / 4 JUN 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

US authorities are concerned about Belize's failure to bring charges against a man suspected of ordering a massive shipment of methamphetamine precursor chemicals, according to reports.

In February, Belize customs officials and US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents intercepted some 3,000 sacks of a methylamine hydrochloride concealed in a shipment of six 12-meter containers purportedly containing fertilizer from China. The chemical would have been enough to produce 400 tons of methamphetamine, worth $10 billion, according to the authorities. Suspicions were aroused by the size of the shipment, as the country's fertilizer merchants rarely import so much at once, reported Plus TV.

The shipment was ordered by Vernon Cuthkelvin (pictured) who imported the chemicals through his company, the Belize Garden Consortium. Cuthkelvin claimed that the company in China from which he bought the chemicals must have made a mistake with the order, reported the Belize Times.

Investigations into Cuthkelvin's involvement have so far fallen flat. In Belize, the chemical is not illegal in its pure form. As Cuthkelvin's lawyer told Belize's Channel 5, the substance can also be used to manufacture medical products. Even if customs officials tried to charge him for making false customs claims, which could incur a $2.3 million fine, they would have difficulty proving Cuthkelvin knew the chemicals were not the fertilizers he claimed.

According to the Belize Times, a pro-opposition newspaper, Cuthkelvin has received preferential treatment as a result of his relationship with the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) which he used to work for. The case has caused concern among US officials who feel the government has handled the case badly and want it to immediately address the country's laws concerning precursor chemicals, the newspaper stated.

InSight Crime Analysis

Though Belize is flagged in the US State Department's 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report as being a transit point for precursor chemicals on their way to Mexico, large seizures are less commonly reported than in other parts of the region, particularly Guatemala and Mexico. The size of the shipment seized in February, however, suggests that Belize's role as a transhipment point may be increasing.

This case highlights the difficulty facing the authorities in battling the trafficking of precursor chemicals. While Guatemala and Mexico, for example, have outlawed certain precursors used to produce synthetic drugs, the legitimate use of such substances in pharmaceuticals and pesticides means that Cuthkelvin has an easy defense to fall back on. This is aided by Belize's comparatively lax laws on precursors.

Some have claimed that the precursors were headed for the Mexican Zetas gang. This is backed by a White House statement last year, which pointed to a presence of the group on Belize's borders and sea ports.

Allegations that the failure to bring charges against Cuthkelvin is due to government corruption are damning and could bring continued pressure from the US, which this year will send over $5 million to the country in police and military aid.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 13 JAN 2012

In an indication that Guatemala lacks the resources to deal with the tide of drug precursor chemicals entering the country,…

METHAMPHETAMINE / 22 JUL 2011

The number of illegal drug production facilities discovered by Mexican police has seen a major jump since 2007, according to…

METHAMPHETAMINE / 9 FEB 2012

The Mexican Army seized a record 15 tons of pure methamphetamine in Jalisco, in a sign that criminal groups in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…