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Belize not a Tourism Paradise Drug & Human Trafficking

Updated on August 5, 2010

DEA Map Of Belize Drug Trafficking

DEA Map Of Belize Drug Trafficking
DEA Map Of Belize Drug Trafficking

Human Trafficking Belize not a Tourism Paradise

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.

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.

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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      Ex expat 3 years ago

      We lived there for 3 years. What we saw over time was drug dealers like Martin who sells cocaine from behind his counter at his pharmacy down south, well within the knowledge of the police who are his best customers, regular people getting arrested for a pipe, personal vendettas carried out by making up stories and reporting to the police so they can get harassed and charged with false crimes. And if a Belizian can't steal from you he will go to every government office to try and make you trouble. I am so disappointed . This was to be our forever place. We had to leave good friends a good business in order to fel safe. Never again.

    • Matt Jordan III profile image

      Matt Jordan 4 years ago from Gulf Coast

      Clearly, Betty has an axe to grind. No worries. If you are going to San Pedro, I offer this advise from somebody who walked the streets alone at night. You don't need a PhD to know where not to go. You can look at a place and know immediately if it is where you want to be. If you are a heavy drinker, I suggest you spend your evenings in your hotel bar. I would say that about every tourist town in world. If you look like a target, guess what, you are one.

      The only thing Betty's harping about human trafficking accomplishes is to make an argument for universal legalization of prostitution. No crime, no black market, no pimps.

    • profile image

      Cory 4 years ago

      Can't be any worse than getting attacked on your doorstep by the neighbourhood crack Canada...Betty crime is everywhere...suck it up buttercup quit being a victim...and yes I was attacked.

    • profile image

      JCU 4 years ago

      What a boatload of crap.

    • profile image

      Joseph Roca 4 years ago

      Who is Betty Phillips, has anyone ever attempted to investigate the integrity of this rather decpicable journalist? Ladies and Gentlemen do not believe everything you read or hear. Many times those who are the bearer of bad news, has many skeleton in their own cupboard. Check out the ulterior motive of the author of everything that you read. Always make informed decision before you act, while there may be element of truth to some of what Ms. Phillips stated it, it behooves the reader to investigate and get the whole truth and then make their own assessment.

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      XXX2012 5 years ago

      I had spent the greater part of 7 years on Ambergris before departing almost 2 years ago. I went there looking for paradise and the only real thing I learned was what an honor and a privilege it is to be an American. We take so much for granted. For those of you who have spent any real time in Belize know exactly what it is like. And for those who support it, either have something to gain, no where else to go, or an awful lot to lose. One cannot debate the Country is riddled with problems.

      I do admit that going there for a week to dive is not necessarily the worsth decision you will ever make. But that should be the extent of it. The place is a complete joke. It is something one cannot even really descibe to people that have not spent substanial time there. The crime and the corruption are so unbelievably bad that it makes Belize for any non criminal or any person with any education at all to survive. It is impossible to have anything nice because eventually, and most likely sooner rather than later, will get stolen. Because of the corruption doing business there is near impossible. There are a handul of foreingers that arrived 25+ years ago that have made loads of money on Real Estate. But those days are long gone. In fact Belize is much more expensive than Florida at this point. As far as the crime. Bad! Real Bad. And getting worse.

      I rarely write about Belize. I should probably write more often. People really need to be warned. It really is that bad.

      I do want people to understand that I have met some very nice people in Belize. And I still have friends there. So it wasn't all bad. I hold no animosity towards the Country. It only made me love and appreciate my Country more. If you decide to go to Belize. Just be careful. Have fun. Enjoy the diving. But come home. It is not a place for most people.

    • profile image

      Danny 5 years ago

      Went to.San

      Pedro Island last year, and had a great time. I was offered drugs and solicited at the Jaquar club.

    • profile image

      nestor 5 years ago

      I spent two weeks in San Pedro and saw zero evidence. The locals were very friendly and I was never solicited for drugs or prostitution. Even in the most intimidating areas everyone was nice.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      it is very simple; if you think that San Pedro is corrupted, filled with drugs and crime, don't come. We dont want you here as a matter of fact if you are inundated with negativity-- directly, if you think like that please don't come, because your pessimistic vibez might follow you and the tamest shark might eat you. San Pedro is not for everybody...San Pedro is for those who are self actualized and not looser! and by the way Betty is just so wrong: I hate wen individuals blame innocent parties for the resentment of others. But the truth is Drugs-Crime exists everywhere...however the closest you can get to paradise is San Pedro. as a matter of fact you can lose your life in the safest place. San Pedro is small Cozzy and overwhelming tourist destination. And it takes a stupid person to know another.

    • profile image

      judy 6 years ago

      we were hoping to move to ambergris caye and retire. I have read nothing but bad news about drugs in Belize and now on Ambergris Caye. Now we will not. I guess staying in the USA is best. Sad such a beautiful place is ruined by drugs/crime.

    • profile image

      Mary 6 years ago

      The San Pedro police shows total lack of regard for public safety. The other day we called for help countless times as we were being attacked in our own yard by " a friend" of theirs who happens to be our neighbor. The guy was violently drunk . We were literally held prisoner inside our home for that length of time, and were attacked when we went out. The police told us that

      My husband will be charged with assault for self defense and our tormenter will be charged with harm a mi or offense. I am disillusioned and sad. I had such high hopes for this beautiful

      Island ,but considering the lack of a decent police department and overt corruption I no longer feel safe. We however will not let this issue run us off the island . We will fight this to the time my neighbor decides to get drunk and threaten our liives again he'll get it worse and we will be armed this time.

      Saddened resident

    • profile image

      chase 6 years ago

      marijuana is good

    • profile image

      Arturo 6 years ago

      I don't understand, We have smart persons doing stupid thing that wont help them in life. i would kindly ask you to put all that energy to something useful and make our world a better place. Belize is in the top places to visit and live, just ask the millions that have visited our wonderful Belize.

    • profile image

      Damned Straight 6 years ago

      Unfortunately the United Nations, the US State department, the Canadian government and the Australian governmnet just to name a few substatiate all of this. If you don't like what Betty is saying you are either blind, involved or too stupid to live. Belize is beautiful...but the crime makes it repulsive. Florida is cleaner, cheaper and safer. You can now buy a condo in Florida since the economic crash for pennies on the dollar. I bought several and have left Belize in the dust after years of putting up with corruption etc. Betty I don't think you are a loser, but I invite you to leave Belize and go someplace sane. Belize is a great leave!

    • profile image

      jimmy 6 years ago

      Betty Phillips you are a loser!!! U need to get laid or see a psychologist. If you are looking for a job in journalism i suggest you find another job because you are terrible at this one.

    • profile image

      Wil from Canada 6 years ago

      In light of the fact that thousands are dying along the Mexican border in the government's crack down on drug gangs, it is no suprice that other countries become easier transit points. We would be foolish to think that Belize is not on the list.

      Personally owning land in Belize as a Canadian,this does concern me. Money and drugs have no conscious and will always flow along the paths of least resistence.

    • profile image

      Allan 7 years ago

      Belize is known to be a Paradise for Human Trafficking and Drug Dealers. I would not buy a House or Island there. I would not even go there in a Holliday. Panama is much safer and less corrupt than Belize. Belize is ruled by gangsters. Belize could be a Pearl but it been destroyed.

    • profile image

      Female Resident of San Pedro 7 years ago

      Betty GO HOME!

      We don't want you here anymore than you obviously want to be here!

      I am offended at this article. What rock did you just crawl out from under?

      I live here and it is one of the nicest places I have ever been. La Isla Bonita is a TRUE FACT! I am blessed to be able to call this home.

      The Mayor here is a friend to me and to everyone. She knows me by name and I would be happy to buy her a drink if I saw her "out and about" at a bar or restaurant. Her family is one of the founding families of this island. She has lived here with all her family her whole life. What someones brother owns or does has nothing to do with other family members. GET A GRIP! She has given of her time, her life, privacy, and been in the "spot light" even after not wanting to be Mayor anymore, she agreed to run another term. We wanted her as Mayor. We love you Elsa!

      As for the Super Intendant of Police. Mr.Arnold does the best with what he has to work with. 40 officers manning 20,000 + people LIVING here, not including the tourist that visit here on vacation. And let's not forget that most tourist that come here "check their brain at the border" and do things they would never do back home. Leaving doors unlocked to go walk the beach, windows open and going diving for the day, purses and bags laying around with things you should carry with you here...HELLO! Use your head! Drunk and driving golf carts doing wheelies down the road. The police officers are paid on a pay scale that is so ass backwards and "peanuts" but they continue to do their job the best they can. And let's not forget it cost at least 4 times more to live here in San Pedro than anywhere else in Belize. They aren't paid anymore to come here so yes part time, after hour jobs are the only way they survive. And, IF you have or had a complaint about an officer, you should take their badge number that they ALL wear on their shoulder and report them to Mr.Arnold. He tolerates NOTHING from the officers. Keep doing your job guys!

      We do not have a 100 murders a year and there is not human trafficking going on "everywhere". Crime here is majority "petty crimes" and "petty theft". Remember where you are! There are poor people here and the government doesn't give them money to live every month like welfare in the states. Hookers. There are a few "scatales" here as they are called and they stick out like a sore thumb. They aren't kids either, they are grown women and proud of what they do, they flaunt it.

      Murders and drugs???? Again what rock did you just crawl out from under? Don't you typically "reap what you sew"? If you run with drug dealers can you really expect anything but trouble?

      There is always "room for improvement" everywhere and we are no different here.

      I will say this. The majority of the people here are friendly, kind, helpful, always smiling and happy. We have amazing diving and snorkeling. Some of the best in the world. The food is amazing at most places. The culture is abundant. The water is beautiful and the reef is incredible.

      Go home Betty you don't deserve our beautiful island we CHOOSE to call home.

      Tourist, come and see for yourself. We are well worth the trip!

    • profile image

      I Love San Pedro 7 years ago

      BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Nice try Betty. I have lived in San Pedro for years and have looked far and wide for hookers on the island, and I am telling you from a real reputable source, there are exactly 3 actual prostitutes in San Pedro - trust me. And they're hideous. Every once in a while girls come to the island to try and make money and then they realize there is no real market here for prostitution - it's just way too small, yet the latest census puts Ambergris Caye at closer to 25,000 people, not 12,000. Furthermore, there weren't a 100 murders for anything in San Pedro, and your accounts are completely false. Who taught you journalism? There's a reason why you have to go to school first before trying to be a reporter. Now every Betty Philips in the world with a blog thinks they're reporters. Betty, my advice is I think you really just need to get filled. Perhaps your lack of sexual activity attributes to your obsession with sex and prostitution?

    • profile image

      Mary Mooney 7 years ago

      I would like to know where the information came from to write this. My experience living on the island tells me this information can not be true.

    • profile image

      Offended 7 years ago

      Betty whomever you are.. This is such an irresponsible post. You choose to demonize a good destination that has nothing but good ratings in travel circles for quality of experience, good stewardship of the environment, and more importantly an industry that provides thousands of jobs cor otherwise destitute island residents.. How dare you! You paint this picture of pure corruption, yet no mention that the only reason a drug trafficking industry exists is because thee is no attention paid by The US to curb consumption, and the only reason ficha bars exist is because there is again, a North American market who frequent the establishments. I live in South Florida where the "ficha" bars are licensed to operate and the girls make tons of money and drive expensive cars while paying their way through college.. Again because there is a lucrative North American market!!! My only advice.. Look in your own backyard before criticizing someone else's trash!


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