By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
A woman suspected of being a Guatemalan sea-cucumber black market vendor was busted with $65,000 worth of illegally harvested sea cucumber.
The woman, 49-year-old Georgina Maribel Mendez Aldana, was stopped at the mile 4 checkpoint on the Phillip Goldson Highway. The pickup truck she was travelling in was searched. There were four occupants in the vehicle and three of them, including Aldana, were of Guatemalan nationality.
Hampton Gamboa, Fisheries Supervisor for the Conservation and Compliance Unit, explained that after officers made the discovery, the group, along with the haul, was brought to the Fisheries Department.
Gamboa reported that the pan of the truck was loaded with about 7,000 sea cucumbers weighing over 3,000 pounds.
Gamboa listed Aldana’s offences starting with the fact that she is a Guatemalan who does not have a license to harvest sea cucumber in Belize.
He added that she didn’t have an export license either.
Gamboa said that Aldana could be charged with attempting to illegally export sea cucumber.
He explained that the Fisheries Department had been alerted about Aldana and had been monitoring her movements from early last year.
Aldana, along with the two other Guatemalans, was arraigned in the Magistrate Court, charged wit,h immigration offences relating to employing the two men unlawfully in Belize.
She was fined $2,000 for this offence then charged for engaging in commercial fishing without a license and for attempting to export fish products without a valid exporter’s license as well as engaging in harvesting sea cucumbers without a special license.