A group of coastal pirates who prowl the high seas in southern Belize in the Stann Creek District area, and who target fishermen to rob or kill them, have reportedly sent threatening messages to the Belize Coast Guard that when they (the Coast Guard) confront them, they will kill them in a shootout.

The Coast Guard has thus made the apprehending of these pirates a high priority. According to the Coast Guard, the agency will do whatever needs to be done to protect the lives of fishermen working at sea from pirates and sea bandits, and they are conducting frequent aggressive patrols in likely areas to confront the criminals.

The announcement was made today by Admiral Johnny Borland, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, at the Coast Guard Headquarters at Belizean Beach, Mile 4 on the George Price Highway, during the opening of their new facility.

Commandant Borland said that the Coast Guard have formed a task force along with the Fisheries Department to hunt down the pirates to bring them to justice. He said that the public should be reassured that the Coast Guard will be out on the seas conducting anti-crime patrols to ensure the long-term safety of those who travel or fish in those waters.

The latest incident of piracy at sea occurred last Wednesday evening, October 5, in the Colson Caye area, near Tobacco Caye, about 18 miles east of Dangriga, Stann Creek District.

Three fishermen from Sarteneja, Orange Walk District, who were fishing near Colson Caye, were held up and robbed at gunpoint, and beaten by armed pirates. Two of the fishermen told the Coast Guard that the bandits stole all their marine products and their personal belongings, after which they tortured them and forced them to jump overboard into the sea.

The pirates then stole their boat.

When the three fishermen jumped into the sea, one did not resurface. The other two men swam to a nearby island, on which there is a resort. The people on the island helped the fishermen and called the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard went to the area that same Wednesday evening, but so far, 9 days later, the missing fisherman has not been found, and the pirates have not been captured. The fisherman is now reported as “missing at sea” and believed to be dead.

Police and the Coast Guard also believe that the same pirates are the killers responsible for the death of a fisherman identified as Thomas Young, 49, of Belize City, and the disappearance of 4 others who were with him— Edwin Rice Graham, 24; Darwin Gentle, 26; Kendrick Chi, 26; and Sergio Flores, 34. Young was found “chopped up” and shot, floating in the sea near Colson Point Caye on Saturday, December 12, 2015, three days after the five friends were reported missing.'