Tonight, half of the prison escapees who led a mass breakout on Monday
have been recaptured. When we left you last night - 22 were still at
large; tonight it is 14, after 8 more were caught between last night
and this afternoon - including alleged co-ring leader Joel Sierra.
We'll tell you all about them in a minute, but we start with the 7 who
were taken to court today to be arraigned on escape charges.
They were arraigned in the Magistrate's Court on the crime of escape
from prison, and 5 out of 7 have pleaded guilty.
They are Guatemalan Juan Ramirez, and the Belizeans: Christopher
Bradley, George Bednrick, Orlando Smith, Kenroy Gamboa, Kevin Buller,
and Mark Pelayo. They were arraigned before Senior Magistrate Tricia
Ramirez, Bednrick, and Gamboa did not waste the court's time, and they
pleaded guilty to the crime. The Senior Magistrate sentenced all 3 of
them to serve 1 year in prison which is to run consecutively to any
other sentence they were serving before they escape. Bradley and Smith
also pleaded guilty to the charge, but they were given a stiffer
sentence of 1 year and 3 months, which is also to run consecutively to
any sentence they were serving before they escaped.
Pelayo pleaded not guilty to his charge, and so, he has been remanded
back to prison until December 4th, his next court date.
In the case of Kevin Buller, he also pleaded not guilty to the charge,
and his explanation to the presiding magistrate was that the other
escapees threatened him into joining the prison break. He has been
remanded into custody until December 4th, which his next court date.
After the very lengthy arraignment, we got a chance to speak with
Buller's attorney about his claim that he was forced into participating
in the escape. Here's how that conversation went right outside the
Ronell Gonzalez - Attorney for Kevin Buller
"This morning, Mr. Buller was arraigned for the offense of escape from
prison, and he was pleaded. He pleaded not guilty, and that plea was
accepted by the magistrate. What happened, it is common knowledge that
there were 3 masterminds behind this entire escape. And, my client's
instructions are that he was given an ultimatum. He either went along with
the situation, or he would have been dealt with by the other prisoners who
were there. So, basically, he was under duress. So, to speak to act in that
manner, I should state for the record that my client, Mr. Buller, was
actually on remand for a very basic offense. He's on remand for the offense
of breach of curfew. That, in itself, is a bailable offense. The facts as
to why he was there remanded on such a basic offense is beyond me. I would
have to investigate further into that."
"What was his explanation for taking so long to either turn himself in or
to get somewhere where he could be safely away from these persons who put
him under duress?"
"Could you imagine the situation of being in fear, now that you're an
escapee from the prison? And, [according] to my instructions again, he was
found somewhere lurking in the same Hattieville area. He wasn't in hiding.
He isn't badly beaten or so. So, I find it that he was lurking, hoping to
be found, and to be returned to the prison."
COMPOL Says 14 Armed And Dangerous Men Remain At Large
And, pretty soon, 7 more escapees will be going to court. They include
those caught between last night and this afternoon.
The two caught last night are 24 year old Orlando Smith from Roaring
Creek Village, and 20 year old Kenroy Gamboa from Belize City.
And then this morning, 22-year-old Deon White from Belize City was
And, most recently, this afternoon: alleged ringleader 30-year-old Joel
Sierra from Santa Elena, Cayo, 27 year old Phillip Bowen of Hopkins
Village, 30 year old Daren Vasquez of Teakettle Village, 20 year old
DeAndre Guiffaro of Seine Bite Village, and 20 year old Victor Galeano
of Cristo Rey Village.
This morning - before those last 5 were caught - we spoke to the
Commissioner about those who have been recaptured and the 14 dangerous
and desperate men who remain at large:
Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"We continue our manhunt in respect to the prison break, and so far we have
recaptured a total of 9 of the escapees leaving a total of 19 who are still
at large, of the 9 who have been recaptured one of those individual's,
Akeem Tillett was shot and killed during the manhunt in the coastal road
area. The others have been charged by the police for escape and will be
arraigned in court today."
And while 7 were taken to court one was not. That's Deon White, the escapee
who was caught just this morning, his sister explained what happened when
she saw him.
"So, what was your physical reaction when you see the news this morning
that Deon White has been safely captured and he has the picture with his
Deidra Avila - Deon White's sister
"Well I felt so good the eye water even drop and everything because I gone
sleep and said I hope they find my brother, I wish I could even see the
news that how, I just felt so happy man, I feel good now and I hope they
find the rest safe and everything. This morning they called me for me to go
to jail. My mother and I went well. Well, I'm glad how we got to talk to
him. I was so happy to see him because it had been months since we'd seen
him but the only thing, I'm disappointed about that hurts my heart is that
they beat him up so bad that it made me even cry."
"Might it have been injuries that he got while on the run because you know
they were in the bush and so too?"
"But he said he didn't run from them, when he saw them he was drinking
water and when they were coming he just put up his hands. He said they
stood on his ears and his toenail came off. His hands were bruised up foot.
I just can't even talk I just cried I don't like seeing him in pain."
"You said that it's a bad move he made because he was on remand and you
felt he would have gotten off and he made the situation worse for himself.
Why he get eena this breakout?"
"That's the same thing I want to know, even if you see somebody running. I
wouldn't have ran because I would make worse on myself. Like I said, you
never know why the run, so I can't judge and say he run. Even if you force
them and thing but I still don't now I don't think any of them would want
to run again because he done see what happen to him now, how they beat him
bad, so I don't think he would want run again. I don't think anyone would
want to run again."
5 more learned that lesson well: Phillip Bowen, Deandre Guiffaro, Darren
Vasquez, Victor Galeano, and alleged ringleader Joel Sierra were caught at
the Mile 25 community this afternoon: hiding in A Taiwanese resident's
So that leaves 14 escapees who remain on the run, the commissioner says he
considers them to be armed and dangerous, and he hasn't ruled out the
possibility that they've acquired even more weapons.
"Sir we have information that the BDF Lance Corporal was shot with a
shotgun do those escapees still currently have that shotgun in their
"We have only recovered the M4 Carbine, we have not recovered any other
weapon from them so if that is the case then yes, they would still have it.
Of course, a man on the run from the long arm of the law will surely try
his utmost best to arm himself so that he can ward off and defend himself
from the security forces and so like I said before we expect that they are
armed and dangerous."