Oscar Mena, 68; his son, Alex O’Brien, 35; and Ernel Brooks, 25, were arraigned this week on charges of stealing a bargeload of BSI sugar, 125 tonnes (275,500 pounds) of raw sugar, valued at $125,000 dollars..
Police found traces of the stolen sugar – 65 lbs of raw sugar in a used Belize Mills ‘mill feed’ bag, along with 150 similar but empty sacks containing sugar residue, when they searched a house at #9783 Riverside Street Extension in the Lake Independence area of Belize City.
Police also found a 330 lb. capacity scale, which they believe was used to weigh the sugar.
BSI normally handles raw sugar in its bulk warehouse with a mechanical shovel mounted on a traxcavator. The sugar is shovelled onto a conveyor belt which loads it on to barge..It is discharged in the same way – by mechanical holel on to the ship.
For the thieves to have removed the sugar from the barges, they would have needed to bag the sugar into more manageable sacks,.
At at estimated 20 sacks per ton, it would have required 2,500 sacks to package the stolen sugar. These would have been off-loaded manually from the barge to the thieves’ motor vessels or skiffs.
In his defense, O’Brien claimed to have bought the sugar from a stevedore who works on the barges, and he said he didn’t know the sugar was stolen. But O’Brien did not name the man who allegedly sold him the sugar.
No plea was taken, but O’Brien begged the court’s indulgence to grant him bail, because he has three children in high school, for whom he is trying to earn several hundred dollars in school fees before the start of the next academic year.
Unfortunately, Magistrate Frazer upheld the prosecution’s objections and remanded all three accused to prison until July 20, when they return to court..
The case is behing heard in the court of Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer in the Belize City