Mexican and Belize officials have begun a two day meeting to discuss ways to combat transnational organized crime, an increasing concern for Belize, a country that has seen a marked increase in foreign gang activity over recent years.
On August 30, officials from Mexico and Belize met in the Commercial Free Zone between the borders of both countries to begin the seventh Mexico-Belize Binational Commission. The meeting will last two days and discuss issues such as border security and drug trafficking, among other topics.
According to El Universal, transnational organized crime is one of the main agendas of the meeting, with both governments keen to review and reinforce information sharing capabilities between security agencies to better combat the flow of narcotics, precursor chemicals and arms across the border.
The last Binational Commission was held in October 2010.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the 2010 Commission placed equal emphasis on cross-border security issues, events since the last meeting have arguably made the issue more pressing. Earlier this month, the US Treasury Department blacklisted three alleged associates of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in Belize. The men reportedly worked as intermediaries for Colombian cocaine suppliers and Mexican purchasers.
The US announced last year it believes that some 10 tons of cocaine are trafficked via Belize's coastline each year, something which led the White House to "blacklist" the country as a major transit point for narcotics.
In the same White House report, the Sinaloa Cartel's rivals the Zetas were highlighted as being a key concern in Belize, having increased their presence in the country's ports and border areas.
The country's rugged coastline, porous borders and lack of security investment·-- there is no radar to track drug flights or go-fast boats operating in the area --·makes it an ideal location for transnational organized crime, as the Washington Post reported. In addition to being attractive for cocaine trafficking, the country is also a vital entry of precursor chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs thanks to its comparatively lax laws on importation of chemicals.
While upping intelligence sharing may mark an improvement in cross-border, law enforcement activity between Belize and Mexico, Belize is clearly in need of serious security investment in order to tackle a seemingly growing problem in the presence of international criminal organizations.