Two officers of the Fisheries Department came under gunfire while out in the field. It happened on Saturday forty-nine-year-old ranger, Winston Aranda and thirty-two-year-old biologist, Henry Brown Junior were at a coral treatment site at Barracuda Patch in the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve some twenty-two miles north of San Pedro Town. The men came under attack by armed Mexican men. Luckily no one was injured and the men made it back safely to the mainland. However, the Mexicans manage to steal several items including the gas tank, a camera, two pistols and ammunition, other weapons, and several electronics, including cell phones worth thousands of dollars altogether. Police’s Public Relations, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Fitzroy Yearwood shared the details.
ASP. Fitzroy Yearwood, Public Relations Officer, Belize Police Department: “They received report of tampering with coral in the Boca Bacalar Chico reserve area and when they responded initially there was a Mexican skiff not too far from them. The occupants of that skiff turned away as if they were going towards Mexico. One of the fisheries officers entered the sea to make checks whether or not they were indeed tampering and that skiff returned. When it returned the officer that was remaining on the vessel claims that the captain of that other vessel pointed a firearm at him whilst another gained access to their vessel and robbed him of several items including two firearms and their extra fuel. This took place sometime around two o’clock on Saturday and you know twenty two miles out at sea is very far especially if you have gusty weather. These men made their way to San Pedro around eleven o’clock on Sunday where they made this report. Well I know for a fact in the report it stated that they took their tank with fuel so I would want to believe that’s one of the contributing factor for them making this report so long after it actually occurred. Incidents like this we take very seriously because it’s not only crime but it could indicate territorial problems because they have indicated that they strongly believe that the occupants of that vessel were not Belizeans.”
Love News asked Commissioner of Police Chester Williams about the incident and he stated that authorities on both sides of the border will work together as the investigation continues.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Once we’re certain that the robbery was committed by Mexicans the people from fisheries would come to us make their report as they already did. We will investigate and if we are able to identify the accused persons in Mexico then we begin to work through our diplomatic channels with our Mexican counterparts and I mean foreign affairs to foreign affairs in Mexico or the equivalent in Mexico to see how we can get those persons back into Belize. I know that there is an agreement between Belize and Mexico where we can get prisoners but I’m not sure if it includes Mexican nationals but one of the things that Mexico asks for is that once the person is sent back to Belize that the person is not going to face death penalty that is one of the caveat to it I believe. So again it has a lot to do with identifying who the persons are and once we identify them positively then we issue arrest warrant and then we go through the diplomatic channels to be able to get them.”
Reporter: Has the preliminary investigation been able to determine whether it was indeed Mexicans involved ?
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Well based on what the victims of the robbery are saying it would appear that they’re Mexicans so we’re just going through the process to see if we can get the identity of those persons.”