It’s been over two weeks since retired Austrian national Christian “Gigi” Gusenbauer was attacked on his private island off the coast of Placencia. The private investor’s home was infiltrated by sea pirates who made off with his boat, which was later found by police without its engine. Today we can report that the key suspect in that crime has been detained. Acting Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard Gregory Soberanis spoke to the media about how they were able to apprehend the culprit with help from inter-agency partnerships.
Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “It gives me great pleasure to present today that the results of our efforts have been tremendous. The key suspect in the crime that was committed in Placencia was detained by police, the vessel and engines were seized, they’re currently secured here at Coast Guard Headquarters and we continue to conduct targeted operational strikes at locations that we believe area areas that are used by the criminal element who operate at sea. We know on the domestic front that the interagency maritime security strategy that has been employed is one that has been effective as we work not only with our domestic partners but we’ve worked with our international partners primarily Honduras as we know that the criminal element who conduct these heinous crimes have links with the criminal element in Honduras and as such we’re working very closely with our Honduran counterparts in ensuring that these perpetrators are found and that they are brought to justice.”
The Acting Commandant also spoke about how they have been conducting strategic operations with help from Honduran counterparts to bring the criminal elements conducting organized crime in our Belizean waters to justice.
Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “Every year there are certain trends that often occur. In the past for example we’ve seen where at the commencement of the tourism season there would be an increase in engine theft. We know that coming close to the lobster season, the conch season, when those seasons are about to close we’ve seen where the fishermen are targeted by the criminal element sometimes here in Belize City and sometimes down south in Dangriga those are some of the patterns and trends that we’ve seen over the years but we’ve also seen where the activities of the criminal element who operate at sea has evolved where they now use the guise of fishermen to conduct more than just coastal piracy. They now steal the fishermen’s product, engines, and whatever other electronic devices that may be onboard the vessels of these fishermen they take them across to Honduras where they are sold and in return they get drugs, weapons and ammunition. So maritime safety/security is one of the key mandates for the Belize Coast Guard. We know that fighting crime is not something that the Coast Guard can do on its own and therefore the interagency approach, collaboration, partnership, networking is key, critical and vital in order for us to dismantle these criminal networks who operate at sea because while they operate at sea there’s also the land aspect of what they do so there’s a link between how they operate in the maritime space and what they do while they’re on land and so that collaboration and partnership with not only our government stakeholders but also the NGOs as well plays a key role in how we address the matters of coastal piracy.”
Soberanis also thanked our domestic agencies and the local communities in the south for playing a key role in providing information to aid the BCG in their operations.