Increased Police Presence in Santa Elena/San Ignacio Amid Rise in Armed Robberies

Increased Police Presence in Santa Elena/San Ignacio Amid Rise in Armed Robberies

Police in Santa Elena/San Ignacio have placed more boots on the ground and increased patrols amid a spike in shootings and armed robberies in the twin towns. Over the past nine months, there have been one dozen armed robberies, monthly targeting small businesses, and one murder. As we reported on Friday, the alarming figures have left many stakeholders of the western communities in fear as many worry it will reach their doorsteps. Over the weekend, reinforcements were brought in, and police conducted several operations. Today, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams spoke about the police’s efforts and how he plans to bring a sense of security back to residents. 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: The issue in San Ignacio is one of concern and I share the same concern like you and the people of San Ignacio. I was there last week and I met with the Western Regional Commander and the command structure in San Ignacio Town and we discussed the ongoing crime problems there and see what we can do to address it. I’ve since put a number of things in place to be able to make sure that the people of San Ignacio feel safe not just in their homes but also in the streets. I’m sure that the people would be able to attest that over the weekend they saw increased police activities including a number of operations, certain persons were arrested and those operations are going to continue indefinitely. What we want to do is to make sure that we go after those persons who we believe are involved in these criminal activities and were not just looking at those persons in San Ignacio but we’re also looking at the transient criminals, those from Roaring Creek, Cotton Tree who may also go into the San Ignacio region and commit these types of crimes. So we’re ensuring that we target the entire Cayo district per se to go after persons we believe are involved in robberies and other shootings as well as gang activities. Another feature to the new plan for San Ignacio is to install GI3 officers in San Ignacio Town and two officers will report there as of today and those officers have been tasked to look at the gang investigation where these gang members are concerned to see how we can levy charges against them. We have always only been focused on Belize City in terms of gang members but we have to realize that the gang problem has spread not just within the Belize district but also out district and so ensuring we have that presence there to go after those persons who are involved in gang activity is also important.”

According to Williams, the police have also moved toward cracking down on gang members operating in the twin towns. He says that in the coming weeks, police will be stern in their approach and will be knocking on doors across the district. 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “The other things that we are doing as a part of the operations I will not disclose those at this time to the public I just ask the public to be patient with us. We’ll be coming to your homes in some cases we might end up in homes that we don’t belong but we will go where information takes us and just ask that you be patient with us. If you have any information you believe can assist the police with these investigations please feel free, share the information with us and then once that is done we’ll do what we can to ensure that whatever is provided is looked into. The other features of the operation I’m not going to divulge at this time but you’re right that motorcycles and particularly the Medium and the Lifans the 100 or 150 cc are the ones that are mostly used in the commission of these crimes so again that is a part of our focus making sure that we target those persons who are using those motorcycles. Again the drug trade is a very key factor in what is taking place. People want to control certain areas and again that’s an issue we’re looking at.”

Williams denied that the officer commanding the western division was the main factor contributing to the increase in crime out west.

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