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News in Brief

More Charges for American Fugitive

Thirty three year old US national William Russell Jewett, the man wanted by US authorities and found in Belize with major stacks of cash, did reappear in Magistrate’s Court as scheduled this week, but once again was put back in the hands of police.

It is not certain just how many days the US fugitive was in Belize before local authorities received the tipoff that led them to the Cucumber Beach Marina at Old Belize on the Western Highway. But the information was solid. A search of Jewett’s sailboat, “Latitude Adjustment” turned up a total of US$120,000, 4,200 Euros, and an assortment of pesos, quetzals and Belize dollars. Belize police found the money hidden behind a panel inside a closet in the boats master’s bedroom.

Jewett is wanted in the United States for felony weapons, possession and fraud charges. In Belize he has been charged for money laundering. Customs authorities who did not wish to be interviewed on camera told 7News that the vessel Latitude Adjustment is valued at $754,454.

Customs officials report that they are treating the vessel as uncustomed goods, meaning that he will be sued for three times the boat’s value for illegally importing the vessel. (From 7NEWS, Belize City)

Luxury Yacht Lodged on Barrier Reef

An 85 foot luxury yacht – “The Great Escape” is lodged on Belize’s barrier reef near Hunting Caye. It has been there since November 30, of last year when it’s captain and owner – American national Albert Barscroft ran aground on a portion of the reef in the Sapodilla and Hunting Caye Range while exiting Belizean territorial waters.

What’s news is that the yacht is falling apart and it needs to be removed to avoid an environmental catastrophe. The yacht is loaded with fuel and after being lodged on the reef for six weeks – the Department of Environment fears that it is beginning to break. The vessel hasn’t been removed because according to the DOE, the yacht’s owner allegedly paid Jorge Alfredo Aldana US$10,000 to remove but he didn’t. Aldana allegedly wanted another US$60,000 to remove it.

So now it is in the hands of the Department of Environment (DOE) which is trying to gather the necessary funds – reportedly between $30,000 and $50,000 to pay to have it ship pulled off the reef. The owner will then reimburse the DOE.

The yacht’s owner Albert Barscroft is not in the country because after he was detained by the Coast Guard after the yacht ran aground, he had a heart attack and was rushed to Guatemala for treatment. He has yet to return.

Because the vessel is still lodged on the reef, the Department of Environment has been unable to assess the damage to the reef. The Port Authority is however still investigating the cause of the accident. The evidence so far suggests that the accident was a result of negligence. (From 7NEWS, Belize City)

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