Four top soldiers of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) (Belize’s Air Force, essentially) had been found dead in a lagoon north of Gales Point Manatee, has Belize reeling. In the wee hours of Thursday the soldiers had gone on a mission with others to intercept a plane that was suspected of transporting cocaine from South America, and the next day the wreckage of their helicopter and their lifeless bodies were found.
Two pilots and two corporals perished in the ill-fated operation. BDF Commander, Brig. General Steven Ortega, told the media that the deceased were Major Adran Ramirez, the commanding officer of the BDF Air-Wing, who had been flying for about fifteen years; Major Radford Baizar, the second in command, who was the BDF’s top helicopter instructor pilot; and crew members, Corporal Yassir Mendez and Corporal Reynaldo Choco, who had done extensive engineering courses and were both trained to assist the pilots.
Usually, when drug planes land in Belize we wake up to hear that a burnt plane, or an empty plane, was found in the north or south of the country, but on Thursday morning we woke up to the satisfying news that our law enforcement authorities had carried out a very successful operation, and that’s the news that stayed with us all through the day.
No one was caught, but our authorities had the plane, and cocaine that was worth an estimated BZ$100 million on the streets of the USA — the drug’s destination. It is quite a lucrative trade, with the cocaine picking up value, as much as 1,000 percent, as it makes its way from South America to satisfy the appetite of the streets of New York and Los Angeles and Las Vegas.