Former Official Of Belize Indicted
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A former cabinet official in Belize has been indicted on charges that he conspired to import and distribute marijuana in the United States, the Justice Department announced Monday.
A 14-count indictment, unsealed Monday in Raleigh, N.C., charged Elijio Briceno, former minister of energy and communications, with ″conspiracy to import, to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute in excess of a thousand pounds of marijuana.″
The department said Elijio Briceno also was charged with the use of communications facilities ″in furtherance of the felonies.″ It said he was arrested Monday by federal law enforcement authorities in Miami.
Three other Central Americans, also named in the indictment, are believed to still be in Belize, officials said.
Located between Guatemala and Mexico on the Caribbean Sea, Belize ″is a major source country for marijuana″ brought into the United States, the department said.
It said that if Elijio Briceno were convicted on all charges, he could receive a maximum sentence of 48 years in prison, a fine of $790,000, or both. It noted that he was defeated in his bid for re-election on Dec. 15.
Eligio Briceno, along with three others, is scheduled to be arraigned April 17 before a U.S. magistrate in Wilmington, N.C.
The other three were identified as Renan Briceno, Charro Briceno and John Doe, also known as Elyo. The three were named only in counts alleging a drug trafficking conspiracy. If convicted, each could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $140,000, or both.