Saturday, July 24 saw two fisheries officers come under attack out at sea when they were held up by several armed Mexicans. The men stole a gas tank, camera, two pistols and ammunition, electronics, and other weapons. Response from the Belize Coast Guard in the area was not so quick because a boat was not readily available. Commander of the Belize Coast Guard, Captain Bennett appeared on The Morning Show today explaining that the recovery of the stolen items was due to the close ties with their Mexican counterparts.
Cpt. Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “That was a very unfortunate incident that occured off the coast of Bacalar Chico northern Ambergris Caye where the members of the Fisheries Department were robbed at gunpoint by who we believe to be Mexicans and then they fled the scene. The Coast Guard was not able to respond with a vessel because at the time we did not have a vessel at that immediate area, we had foot patrol. Understand that the Coast Guard also conducts foot patrols especially on northern Ambergris because that’s where primarily the threat is; beachcombers and drug traffickers that walk that area from northern Ambergris all the way down to San Pedro Town. So we had a foot patrol in that area that we were able to see and report the incident. Our vessel response had to come from San Pedro to support that operation but the relationship with Mexico proved itself because of that special relationship we were able to communicate with Mexico, inform them of that situation. The culprits had to abandon the goods that they stole, abandon in Belize Side we were able to recover all of those items and that speaks to that relationship that they were not confident in taking those equipment over to Mexico side because I’m sure they’re aware that the Belize Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy has a very good relationship with communications and joint operational protocols. So it’s sort of to enforce a barrier in between the two countries that would restrict free movement of criminals across the border so that worked out well even though the response was not at the time of the robbery we were able to follow up and recover those items.”
The officers held up were 49-year-old, Winston Aranda and 32-year-old, Henry Brown Junior. The men were at a coral treatment site in the Bacalar Chico National Park and Reserve when they were robbed.