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Coastal Pirates Causing Problems Offshore #548078
02/10/21 06:03 AM
02/10/21 06:03 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,050
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

Coastal Pirates Preying on Fisherfolk

Four fishing crews have been robbed in less than a month. It seems that pirates are preying on fisherfolk in the open waters of the Caribbean. The Coast Guard has called the incidents "coastal piracy." It's something that happens year-round, but according to Commander Gregory Soberanis, there has been an increase as lobster season comes to a close.

The first robbery occurred on January 14th near Caye Glory, the second and third on February 6th near Southwater Caye, and the fourth this morning, once again near Southwater Caye.

The Coast Guard are now patrolling the sea, determined to protect fisherfolk and capture the perpetrators. Commander Soberanis told us that nine persons have been detained so far.

Commander Gregory Soberanis, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard
"Over the past few weeks we've had three incidents that have occurred. The first one occurred about three to four weeks ago. The incident was reported to us and we responded with an aggressive deployment of our patrols to the area and it was a coordinated approach, interagency approach, we've been working closely with the fisheries department, with the police down in Dangriga on the regional commander for that area, Mr Arzu, as well as the officer commanding for Dangriga itself, Mr Jones. We've collaborated our efforts. As it related to the first incident, we were able to locate 9 individuals who we believe to have been involved with that particular incident. They were all detained and handed over to police in Dangriga. We were able to seize four assets where they were charged for various violations, port violations, so that was the first incident. The second incident occurred on as recent as Saturday, again along with fisheries we were able to respond to that scene and we escorted the fishermen back to Belize City where we were able to conduct interviews with them and get an idea of what transpired out at sea. The most recent incident occurred this morning, the perpetrators were bold enough to do it approximately just around 6:15 this morning."

"The fishermen have stated to us that, one, their products have been stolen, two, their engines, and three, their electronic devices, their phones. So those are some of the things that have been stolen from the fishermen. What we believe is happening is that this weekend is the close of the season and so the criminal element who operate in these areas are aware of that and they see the fishermen as soft targets and so they know that the fishermen will have their products that they will transport back to Belize City and so hence the reason why these fishermen are being targeted."

"We believe that these perpetrators are Belizean, and they are part of the criminal network that operates in that area and we want them to know if they're listening to this interview that the law enforcement authority will make every effort to locate them and to ensure that justice is served."

The detainees will so far be charged for having inadequate equipment on their vessels, as well as not having the proper documentation. The CEO in the Ministry of the Blue Economy Kennedy Carillo told us, quote, "As the Ministry responsible for Fisheries we are gravely concerned about the situation of piracy against the fisher folk out at sea."

Channel 7


Piracy at Sea – Fishermen are Robbed at Gunpoint!

There is a spike in piracy at sea. Since mid-January and as recent as this morning, fishers have been the target of armed robbers. The thieves have been taking advantage of their vulnerability and robbing them of their products and their engines. It is a perennial problem that law enforcement agencies have been trying to tackle. Today, News Five found out more.

Duane Moody, Reporting

As early as six this morning in the area of South Water Caye in southern Belize, after spending several days on the waters, a group of fishermen returning to the city with their catch was robbed at gunpoint. The thieves took their cell phones, the boat engines, and their fish products. It is the most recent incident of a series of piracy at sea. Investigators believe that the attacks are orchestrated by criminal elements from the south. Commander Gregory Soberanis of the Belize Coast Guard says that there has been an uptick of these crimes at sea since mid-January as the lobster season is coming to a close on February fifteenth. 

Commander Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“Coastal piracy or armed robberies at sea, specifically in our southern sector. Over the past few weeks, we had three incidents that have occurred. The first one occurred about three to four weeks ago; the incident was reported to us and we responded with an aggressive deployment of our patrols to the area. The second incident occurred on Saturday; again along with Fisheries [Department], we were able to respond to that scene and we escorted the fishermen back to Belize City where we were able to conduct interviews with them and get an idea of what transpired at sea. The most recent incident occurred this morning; the perpetrators were bold enough to do it approximately just around 6:15, thereabout this morning.”

The fishermen are primarily from Sarteneja and would spend days at sea before returning home. Luckily onboard their vessel was a monitoring system that was used to signal to authorities that they were in distress. This feature, very likely, saved their lives because the Belize Coast Guard responded quickly.

Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA

“I was advised on Sunday that there was an incident in the South Water Caye area. I don’t have all the details, but we know that this happens from time to time out at sea. And of course the fishers are a target because that’s their work; that’s what they do and we have always been concerned about how we can help with our systems. If the fishers press a button for ten seconds, we are able to know their exact location. We do know that there is an emergency and generally, depending on their location, can get to them within an hour or two. That is what aided in this incident. So we were able to tell right away and on Sunday’s event, we were able to rescue them fairly quickly with resources from the Fisheries Department, the Coast Guard.”

The frightening experiences have been documented by law enforcement agencies, including the Belize Coast Guard and the Belize Police Department. In these incidents, we are told that many fishermen are injured and survive the ordeal. However, there is still a level of fear. Commander Soberanis, however, says that they are working to keep fisherfolk safe. 

Commander Gregory Soberanis

“As it relates to the first incident, we were able to locate nine individuals who we believe to have been involved with that particular incident. They were all detained and handed over to the police in Dangriga. We were able to seize four assets where they were charged for various violations, port violations.  I definitely want to assure the fisherfolk community that the Belize Coast Guard, working along with the Police Department, Fisheries and our key partners in our maritime domain will make every effort to locate the perpetrators of these crimes and we will stop at nothing to ensure that justice is served.”


Channel 5


Re: Coastal Pirates Causing Problems Offshore [Re: Marty] #548220
02/17/21 05:20 AM
02/17/21 05:20 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,050
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

Coast Guard Tackling Piracy With Escorts

Piracy in Belizean waters sounds like something out of the 18th Century but rest assured it's a pursuit that remains alive and well today. So much so that the Coast Guard Has been charged with acting as escorts to fishermen, who at this time of the year risk losing their valuable lobster catches and equipment to modern day pirates.

It's a story you've heard time and time again, one that sometimes ends in mystery with fishermen disappeared into the forever unknown.

And yesterday we spoke to the Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence and Border Security, Oscar Mira who told us how they plan to tackle piracy head on.

Oscar Mira, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries.
"We have or we have been getting or briefing from the commandant of the coast guard and we have given him the support that he needs in terms of resources in terms of extra fuel to ensure that he escorts the patrols that are needed in the area, it has been an annual occurrence as far as I'm told whenever the lobster season is coming to a close you know and the fishermen are bringing in their produce there's this flare-up in piracy at sea. The coast guard is working very hard and I was pleased that when I went to visit them I could see the coast guard coming in escorting some of the fishermen that were out at sea. It is an issue that we're going to tackle head-on. We are also working with our partners to ensure that the other stakeholders have a say in this as well so it's not just a responsibility of the Coast guard but the police are also working on it and they have been gathering a lot of information and intelligence on what is happening."

"We will continue to ensure that the Coast Guard has the resources needed and that the Coast Guard has the information and intelligence gathering capability so that we have operations that are targeted at sea."

Channel 7


Re: Coastal Pirates Causing Problems Offshore [Re: Marty] #548326
02/23/21 05:38 AM
02/23/21 05:38 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,050
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
[Linked Image]

Security forces work together to deter piracy activities increasing on Belizean waters

The Belize Police Department and the Belize Coast Guard have joined forces to combat piracy activities following the aggravated burglary at Lark Caye, six miles east of Placencia Village in southern Belize. On Friday, February 19th, thieves invaded and burglarized the home of Austrian retiree 46-year-old Christian Gusenbauer, who lives on the said caye, and shot him once. According to a police report, at about 6:45PM, Gusenbauer saw three to four male persons outside his house. They fired shots at the windows with a shotgun. The culprits later gained access to the house, and Gusenbauer locked himself in a bedroom. The thieves demanded money, and Gusenbauer, fearing his life, handed over an undisclosed amount and the keys to his boat. The official report states that Gusenbauer sustained a single gunshot. The thieves then made good their escape in his boat.

Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Chester Williams visited Gusenbauer in the hospital and wished him a speedy recovery. He indicated that there had been an increase in sea piracy activities in the southern waters of Belize over the past few weeks. “Those engaged in these criminal activities have relieved many of our genuinely hard-working fishermen and businessmen of their belongings, particularly boats, engines, and marine products,” Williams noted. He said several operations are currently taking place in the country’s southern waters.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

Re: Coastal Pirates Causing Problems Offshore [Re: Marty] #548327
02/23/21 05:42 AM
02/23/21 05:42 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,050
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

COMPOL Says Pirates Move Between Belize and Honduras

And, Compol Williams says that the police stats show that these sea pirates - possibly three gangs move between Honduras and Belize - but are focussing on the south:

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"From what we are seeing there are three groups involved. One of the groups that we dealt with last week, they were charged with the various fisheries offenses and then they were also charged with being a member of a gang under the crime control and criminal justice act and many of them were remanded to prison on Friday. But we have two other groups that we believe are operating within the area and they frequent the Stann Creek District and Honduras. So it would appear that whenever they do their crime, whatever they would steal, they take to Honduras in exchange for guns and drugs and then they come back to Belize. And so this is an area we are working on. We are working in collaboration with the Belize coast guard, fisheries department as well as other business people within the area who are assisting the police with resources to be able to patrol the area. We have searched a number of fishing camps on different islands that we believe these thugs operate on and we are continue to do that, but they don't stay in one area, they frequent between Belize and Honduras."

Reporter
"Are these men known to police and what area do you guys believe they based?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"They are known to police. They are based in the Stann Creek District, primarily Dangriga, Independence, Placencia and around that Sittee River/Hopkins area and when they are at sea they hang out more in the channel caye, south water caye area and these close islands."

Channel 7


Re: Coastal Pirates Causing Problems Offshore [Re: Marty] #548330
02/23/21 05:57 AM
02/23/21 05:57 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,050
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Minister Musa Says Authorities Closing in on Sea Pirates

The cops are closing in on the sea pirates – that’s what Minister Kareem Musa told the media today. He says that they are treating the issue of piracy seriously. According to Musa, they are gathering the evidence needed and he believes that they will be able to hold some of the criminals accountable.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs


“The issues of the sea pirates, as well as the home invasion issue, are two very concerning topics that we in the police department are looking at very closely. I can tell you that in terms of the sea piracy, we are very close, in my opinion, to identifying the suspects. It is just about gathering evidence and we have been gathering concrete evidence and it is my hope that we can start pursuing those individuals because this is something that cannot continue. As you know we live in a large geographic, our land mass is huge but imagine trying to cover that sea mass, it is equally difficult for us to cover such a large area. But that is not stopping us and we are upping the ante and we are working very closely with the coast guard in southern Belize. We are getting some good leads and it is my hope that it can lead to some arrest very shortly. There are actually three groups we are looking at and we are narrowing this particular incident down. But there are a band of pirates and we need to gather information against them so that we can make these arrests and that is exactly what we are doing.”

ComPol Chester Williams on Piracy

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams has taken an active interest in the incident on Lark Caye and visited Christian Gusenbauer while he recovers in his hospital bed. Aside from gathering valuable information from the victim, ComPol Williams shared that along with personnel from the Belize Coast Guard and the Fisheries Department, operations have been carried out to address the issue of coastal piracy in southern Belize.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police


“There are three groups involved. One of the groups that we dealt with last week, they were charged with the various fisheries offenses and then they were also charged with being a member of a gang under the crime control and criminal justice act and many of them were remanded to prison on Friday. But we have two other groups that we believe are operating within the area and they frequent the Stann Creek District and Honduras. So it would appear that whenever they do their crime, whatever they would steal, they take to Honduras in exchange for guns and drugs and then they come back to Belize.”

ComPol Williams says that he is lobbying to obtain a boat for the police department to assist with patrols in the area.

Channel 5

Re: Coastal Pirates Causing Problems Offshore [Re: Marty] #548365
02/24/21 05:48 AM
02/24/21 05:48 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,050
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

Coastal Piracy – An Interagency Approach to Combating Criminal Network at Sea

“Square grouper” coming ashore on Belize’s coastline used to be the main traces left behind by regional drug traffickers. But now boat engine thefts, attacks on island homes and fishermen are giving Belizean authorities another glimpse into this lucrative trade, and the local players involved. News Five’s Duane Moody has more on the fight against crimes at sea.

Duane Moody, Reporting

Wet drops, as part of the transnational narco-trafficking trade, were once a prevailing issue when policing the coastal waters of Belize. There was a flurry of reports of bales of cocaine from South American countries floating at sea.  While that crime has become almost non-existent over the years, the now pervasive issue is that of piracy at the hands of locals, who have been posing as fishermen.

Commander Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“These criminal networks use the guise of fishermen to control the sea routes. And they use the guise of fishermen to commit these crimes at sea. And really and truly it is part of a bigger operation. The guise of fishermen is really being used to fund their narcotic activities.”

Traditionally, the reports of coastal piracy increase during the months of January and February, as the lobster season is coming to a close. Fishermen are targeted by armed thieves, who would attack in the dark of the night and relieve fishers of not only their produce, but also their outboard engines. In some cases, the fishers are injured in the process. Since the start of 2021, there have been four reported cases of attacks on fishermen at sea in southern Belize. The Fisheries Department is concerned about the effect that it is having on the multimillion dollar industry that provides five percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Hampton Gamboa, Operations Manager, Fisheries Department

“Sea piracy on an annual basis, worldwide and internationally is a billion dollar operation. It is not so much in the Caribbean and Central America.   In Belize, over the past month, if you want to put a figure in the loss of these fishermen when you add up the vessel, engines that were lost in these robberies and their sea products, you are looking at a minimum of forty-five thousand dollars that was lost.”

Commander Gregory Soberanis

“We intend to protect the interest of our blue economy, fisher folks and mariners who contribute significantly to our economy.”

The criminal activity is not limited to fishermen and mariners. Most recently, there was an attack on an Austrian national at a private island resort off the Placencia Peninsula; he was shot before a number of armed men robbed his home of cash and got away with his boat. The boat was discovered the following day without its engines. That incident, coupled with increasing reports of stolen engines by boaters, has led to an interagency strategy to stop these criminals in their tracks.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“There are three groups involved. One of the groups that we dealt with last week, they were charged with the various fisheries offenses and then they were also charged with being a member of a gang under the crime control and criminal justice act and many of them were remanded to prison on Friday. But we have two other groups that we believe are operating within the area and they frequent the Stann Creek District and Honduras. So it would appear that whenever they do their crime, whatever they would steal, they take to Honduras in exchange for guns and drugs and then they come back to Belize.”

Commander Gregory Soberanis

“Over the past six weeks, we’ve conducted four strike operations where we’ve seen over fourteen persons being detained and were handed over to the Dangriga police; five assets were seized, significant fines were levied against the perpetrators who committed these crimes. So the results reflect the efforts that the law enforcement authorities are making in our sea spaces. Once it is deemed and we determine and confirm that the camps that these guys operate from are illegal camps, those camps are destroyed.”


Channel 5



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