THE COURT REPORT – Tuesday, January 12th. 2021

THE CASE OF THE ‘WELL-HIDDEN’ WEED THAT WAS FOUND

by Anita Nembhard-Flowers
Belize City, Tues. Jan. 12, 2021

The discovery of a large amount of weed found inside a taxi-man’s tank of his vehicle has led the Belize  Police Department  to charge a couple from Corozal.

This afternoon, 31-year-old,  Jose Maldonado, a taxi-driver of Venezuela Site, Corozal, along with his wife, a dealer of Chan Chen Village, Corozal, was arraigned in the Belize City Magistrate Court on drug related charges after 3 nights in custody.

The couple were read charges before their attorney,  Leeroy Banner, when they appeared before Senior Magistrate, Aretha Ford.

The couple were read two counts of drug trafficking, and one count each of cross district movements.

Allegations are that on Saturday, January 9, 2021, in Sandhill Village, they were found in possession of amounts of 6,207.3 grams and 15,132.1 grams of cannabis, which were found in the gas-tank of the vehicle and hidden in the dashboard of the Taxi-Van.

The police claimed that Maldonado and Gongora were found at 11:30 a.m., in Sandhill at a residence which is not their home. 

The couple pleaded not guilty to all three charges and Senior Magistrate, Aretha  Ford  explained to them that due to the quantity of  weed they are accused of being in possession of, the court cannot grant them bail.

They were  remanded into custody at the Belize Central Prison  until March 24, 2021. 

She explained  to them that they will need to apply for bail through the assistance of their attorney,  Leeroy Banner, as the court will not be in a position to grant them bail until after 90 days time.

Police stated that the major marijuana bust occurred on Saturday morning, January 9, 2021 around 11:20 when officers from the Anti-Narcotics Unit spotted a taxi van with Corozal license plates on the side of the Philip Goldson Highway, near Sandhill Village. The vehicle appeared to have broken down on the road, so the officers stopped to offer help. That is when officers approached the vehicle and immediately picked up the strong scent of marijuana. This led to a  search inside the vehicle where police found 11 parcels of weed behind the driver’s seat. That driver was identified as 31-year-old Jose Maldonado, a resident of Corozal Town. At the time of the drug bust, he was traveling with his common-law wife, 27-year-old Reina Gongora, a resident of Chan Chen Village.

Because the vehicle was reportedly experiencing problems starting, the cops towed it to the Ladyville station. A mechanic was called in to check on it, and when he dropped the tank on the van, he found another 20 parcels of marijuana inside. The police eventually stripped the vehicle down and found 7 more parcels concealed under the dashboard. The total amount of drugs found in this vehicle amounted to  21.4 kilos or 47 pounds.