Ya’axche Apprehends Illegal Xate Harvesters

Yesterday, the pristine Bladen Nature Reserve, the “jewel” in the crown of Belize’s terrestrial protected areas, was the site of a huge illegal xaté bust. Ya’axche forest rangers, in partnership with the Police and Forest Departments, arrested 16 xatéros and confiscated a huge quantity of leaves.

Xatéros with Illegal Xaté

Xatéros with Illegal Xaté

Apprehended in a region called “Matacion” between Trio Village and the Bladen Nature Reserve, the xatéros were quickly brought to the police station in Independence for questioning. Ya’axché rangers were tipped off to the xatéros’ presence when they approached the Bladen Nature Reserve Ranger Base on the morning of Monday, March 23, and presented a license to harvest xaté in surrounding Forest Reserves. The xatéros left after being informed that their license was not valid for Bladen Nature Reserve. However, a routine ranger patrol on Tuesday found signs of xaté collection within the protected area. Several square miles within Bladen Nature Reserve had been stripped of xaté, as well as a large area of the renowned Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. On Wednesday, March 25, two patrols, including a police officer, a Forest Officer and nine staff from Ya’axché set out to find the culprits. Around 1:00 pm they encountered the xatéros with a cache of 26 bales of xaté. Each bale held 70 bundles, totaling approximately 72,800 leaves harvested.

Stripped of All but One Leaf

Decimated Xaté

Healthy Xaté

Healthy Xaté

Although they had been operating under a valid license for extracting xaté within nearby protected areas, they had no right to be extracting within Bladen or Cockscomb. As such, the Forest Department reacted fast by questioning the concessionaire, from Cotton Tree village outside Belmopan, who admitted that some of his Guatemalan employees may have collected xaté outside of their concession.

Over 18,000 Plants Were Destroyed

Over 18,000 Plants Were Destroyed

Camp Along Bladen River Where Xate Was Bundled

Camp Along Bladen River Where Xate Was Bundled



  1. […] ·Tagged bladen nature reserve, marlon mar, ruben hernandez, xate, xateros Updating an earlier report, Ya’axche has just learned that the 72,000+ leaves of illegally-harvested xate confiscated on […]

  2. […] to harvest the xate in a sustainable manner.  Get full text; Support da’ word producer: https://yaaxche.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/yaaxche-apprehends-illegal-xate-harvesters/  These posts emailed to you: send a blank email to: […]

  3. […] was our original report on the apprehension of 16 illegal xatéros. That was also picked up by […]

  4. […] The Amandala – this is a bi-weekly national newspaper that covers a range of issues throughout Belize, including illegal resource extraction and political news. A variety of articles we’ve written have been featured in the paper, including this most recent biological tragedy (original blog post). […]

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    I’m Out! 🙂

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