New Rio Frio Incident

Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

New Rio Frio Incident - 02/11/09 10:29 PM

Sad news: From police reports, I see there was a new incident at Rio Frio cave in the Pine Ridge. Yesterday afternoon, a group of tourists and their guide were held up by what is believed (based on their accents) to be a gang of Guatemalans, armed with pump shotguns. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the bandits took money, cell phones, jewelry, etc.

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/12/09 03:55 PM

The Police Department and the BDF will be all over this quickly. The Ministry of National Security is definitely pulling out all of the stops to stamp out this outrageous, violent behaviour.

We as communities will need to be more vigilant and report incidents and suspicions immediately. Yes it sounds like the "big brother" syndrome - but these gangs do not act alone and they must be recognized by some of us - it is time to whip this crime's butt and take our communities and our livelihood in tourism back from these outlaws.
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/13/09 04:58 AM

Are these victims on their own when it comes to their loss, or is there any scheme for compensation from the public purse? If as I suspect there isn't, isn't it irresponsible of us if we don't strongly recommend to tourists that they have insurance adequate to cover these incidents? Which means we have to come clean about such crimes?
Posted By: Barbara K

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/13/09 03:37 PM

Not again! I thought all tours into the Pine Ridge still had to have an "escort" or is that just tours to Caracol?
Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/13/09 04:23 PM

No escort needed to Rio Frio.

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: DrSteve

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/14/09 04:39 PM

Per 7 News belize:

"the group was escorted to the Rio Frio Caves by armed soldiers as per standard procedure. But around two thirty that afternoon after the convoy of vehicles reached the site, the security personnel allegedly left the area to go and meet another group of tourists who were waiting for a BDF escort. " . . . . .
Posted By: Harvey

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/17/09 06:24 PM

How convenient that their armed escort departed shortly before the incident. Would you call this 'perfect timing' on the part of the bandits or could there possibly be some collaboration here? The bandits waiting with shotguns until the guards leave? Really!
Posted By: MoJo08

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/19/09 07:02 PM

When did an armed escort become manditory? I drove there 3 years ago in a rented 4x4 alone.
Posted By: MoJo08

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/19/09 07:03 PM

I drove to Caracol.
Posted By: sweetjane

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/20/09 05:28 PM

back in '07, when the probs were happening before, we just drove the 4x4 to rio frio too. no escort. we did see this as we were returning to the parking area:

that said, i suppose the whole time we were in the cave, it could have happened to us as well.
Posted By: MoJo08

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/20/09 08:18 PM

Wow, you just never know.
Posted By: wilske

Re: New Rio Frio Incident - 02/23/09 10:49 PM

This article was on the front page of the Calgary Herald today in regards to the Rio Frio incident....

Calgary-area couple recalls Guatemalan armed robbery ordeal

By Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary HeraldFebruary 23, 2009

A Calgary-area couple who returned from Belize on Saturday said they endured a harrowing encounter similar to a local aid worker's ordeal when they were robbed at gunpoint at the Guatemala border nine days earlier.

Andree Lamoureux said she can't shake the terror she felt when the armed bandits targeted her and husband while they were exploring the remote Rio Frio caves in the Belize jungle.

The High River couple had hired a certified guide to take them on the tour, and were inside a cave with another tourist couple when five masked gunmen demanded their valuables.

Once the robbers left, the couple were able to make it to a police outpost about eight minutes away.

Police believe the bandits are Guatemalan and authorities are working with counterparts in that country to apprehend the men, according to local media.

Lamoureux and her husband, Bill Harris, cut their vacation short and returned home this weekend, to the relief of family and friends.

"It was just a frightening experience. It was something we never thought that we would live through,"Lamoureux, 52, said in an interview from her High River home.

"You don't care about what they're stealing from you. The only thing you think of is, 'I don't think we're going to make it out alive.' "

Lamoureux said she researched the area of the country she and her husband were travelling to, and felt assured they would be safe.

The experience proved her wrong.

Lamoureux said she's concerned other tourists could walk unwittingly into the same dangerous situation -- and not make it out as safely.

She questioned whether protecting the fragile tourism industry in the Central American country might be partially to blame for the dearth of information --and affect the authorities' motivation to pursue the crime.

It's a sentiment echoed by Calgary aid worker Sandra Van den Brink, who was aboard a small shuttle bus on Thursday with 11 other passengers in Guatemala when the group was accosted by four gunmen.

Van den Brink has been hunkered down in her Panajachel apartment since the frightening ordeal, fearful to emerge.

"I tried going out to the market yesterday and I felt paranoid. It's just ridiculous. I look at everyone's faces now thinking, 'Are you one of them?Are you going to hurt me?' "

She contacted her two adult sons in Calgary on the weekend to assure them she's safe, though shell-shocked.

Van den Brink, 54, still has some work to finish in Guatemala, but she's rethinking her stay in the country.

"I'm still trying to deal with getting over the shock of all this. I'm a little concerned about going back on the roads -- even to get to the airport -- at this time," she said.

"I need to have a little time and distance to feel brave enough to get back on the highway."

Canadian authorities warn that strife between drug cartels and the military should keep visitors to Guatemala on the alert.

Van den Brink said she's noticed that violence has escalated in the country in recent months and said Canadian authorities should put pressure on local officials to bring the cases to light.

She said she contacted the local embassy soon after the robbery but hasn't heard back from authorities in either country. "I think that was the most frustrating thing for me. I felt so powerless. Doesn't anybody care this happens? It's such an injustice."

Lamoureux said it will take a long time to recover from the experience.

She and her husband chose the Belize vacation to take them off the resort circuit. Apart from the robbery, Lamoureux said she was deeply affected by the trip.

"We saw some prevalent poverty,"she said. "You see things that will haunt you for a long time."

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