AmbergrisCaye.com Home

Double Murder on Ambergris Caye

Posted By: Marty

Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/24/19 11:23 AM

Police in San Pedro Town are investigating a double murder which occurred this morning. According to reports, police were called out to a lagoon, a mile west of San Pedro Town. There they saw “Johnnie G”, a black skiff and the bodies of 53 year old Mario Graniel and 53 year old Gary Swank. Graniel, a tour guide was seen behind the steering wheel of the skiff with 2 gunshot wounds to the right lower foot, 1 to the right upper chest and 1 to the right side of the face. Swank, a USA citizen was seen floating face down in the lagoon about 30 feet away from the skiff. He was shot in the chest, cheek, left arm and lower back. Reports are that both men went fishing when another skiff passed by and opened fire at them.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/24/19 11:58 AM

A San Pedro Tour Guide & An American Found Dead
[Linked Image]
Police suspect that popular San Pedro tour guide Mario Graniel, 53, was the target of gunmen in a skiff who killed him and a tourist he was with as they were fly-fishing just before midday today.

Around 11:30 Sunday morning San Pedro Police went into a lagoon west of San Pedro Town where they found Graniel’s skiff, the Johnnie G. Inside the vessel was the lifeless body of Graniel, with multiple bullet wounds to the body and head.

About 30 feet from the skiff, floating facedown in the lagoon, was the body of American national Gary Paul Swank, 53, also with multiple gunshot injuries.

Sources tell the Reporter that around 10:00am Graniel and Swank left the island to go fly-fishing in the lagoon. Sometime between that time and 11:30 a dark coloured skiff passed by Graniel’s vessel and fired on the men inside.

Police believe that Graniel was the target because on Saturday they were called to his home in the Boca del Rio area of San Pedro after an unknown gunman fired shots outside the apartment complex, one of which penetrated his front door.

The bodies have been transported to the Belize City morgue where they await post-mortem examinations.

The Reporter

==========================

Tour guide Mario Graniel and Dr. Gary Swank shot and killed at sea

[Linked Image]

Mario Graniel (left) was a well-known private fishing guide, and many island residents acquainted with him say he greatly contributed to the fly-fishing industry on the island. Meanwhile, Dr. Swank (right) was an international cardiologist from the city of Roanoke, Virginia, United States of America. The doctor, who worked at Carilion Clinic, was also a medical director at said clinic’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab and an associate professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Swank was reportedly on holidays in Belize with his wife and three children. Carilion Clinic issued an official statement on Monday, June 24th lamenting the tragedy. “We are heartbroken at his loss,” the statement read. “Dr. Swank was a well-respected and well-loved colleague who, each and every day, embodied the values that we hold dear.”

As an island community reels from shock and mourns the loss of two lives, local government authorities have remained silent in the wake of this violent incident. The San Pedro Sun reached out to Mayor Daniel Guerrero for a comment on the escalating violence on the island, but he declined to speak to the media. The Sun also reached out to Officer in Charge of the Coastal Executive Unit, Superintendent Reymundo Reyes, to no avail. Beyond the initial police report, there have also been no further updates from the National Police Department.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/24/19 12:03 PM

My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Totally. I make a plea here for reader-restraint in ranting while the families grieve.
Posted By: Ridgebackmix

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/24/19 08:02 PM

https://www.richmond.com/news/virgi...e9900ce-aab3-536e-9187-dea873b4fd5c.html

One of the victims was a doctor
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/25/19 12:33 PM

Island Tour Guide Murdered On The Job; His Guest Was Silenced

And, our next story is about a Sunday afternoon double murder that has shaken up San Pedro and could have very serious implications for the tourism sector.

A tourist who had gone fly fishing was murdered when the local guide he went out with was targeted for an execution at sea.

It happened on Sunday morning in the San Pedro Town lagoon when 53 year old tour guide Mario Graniel was returning from a tour with fellow 53 year old Dr. Gary Swank. Swank was a visitor, staying at a home on the north end of Ambergris Caye where his wife and children were waiting for him to return from his morning fishing tour.

But, he never returned, instead, police had to fish his body out of the lagoon where he lay dead - while Graniel was slumped behind the steering wheel of the skiff - both had multiple gunshot wounds.

Best information says Graniel was the target- but Swank, as a witness, was collateral damage. Police discussed the possible motives for the murder this morning:

Supt. Hilberto Romero
"On Sunday 23rd June, 2019 around 11:30am, police responded to a report at an area 1 mile west of San Pedro Town in the lagoon where upon arrival police found the lifeless bodies of 2 male persons identified as Mario Graniel and Gary Swank. They had multiple gunshots injuries. One of the deceased was on board the vessel while the other was in the water. Both were taken out and taken to the San Pedro Polyclinic where they were pronounced dead on arrival."

Reporter
"Do you have details as to how the crime took place?"

Supt. Hilberto Romero
"We are working on several leads. We know that they were fishing in that particular area and thereafter the report came in that there had been a shooting. Police responded and that is what they found."

Chester Williams
"What we are gathering after the fact is that the decease, Mr. Graniel had a misunderstanding with one of the notorious gang figure in San Pedro. His home was shot at his Friday last. Police detained the persons who we suspected did the shooting, waited for Mr. Graniel to give the report. He never showed up to give the report. We maintain police presence in the area to protect him and the community from further shootings but we can't follow the man everywhere he goes. He decided to go out with a tourist. We don't have a boat to follow him and we can't put police on every tour guide boat. That was the end of it yesterday. We did what we could have done in terms of detaining those who we believe were responsible and maintaining presence in the area where he lived."

Swank was a cardiac interventionist from Virginia.

It is of note that on the day before the murder, Graniel reported to police that someone shot at his apartment - and a bullet penetrated the door. There expended shells were found in the area.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/25/19 12:35 PM

Police Say Graniel Had Beef with Notorious Gang Figure

Investigators are working on establishing a motive. This was not the first time that Graniel came under gunfire. A day before the double murder, shots were fired at Graniel’s apartment in the Boca del Rio area. Graniel was inside his room on the second floor when he heard three gunshots. When he made checks, he noticed a bullet hole above his door. According to sources, this incident was captured by a security camera which showed a lone gunman, wearing a black hoodie to conceal his identity. At the scene, police found three nine millimeter shells. No one was found in the immediate area. According to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, Graniel did not report this matter to the police.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The double murder in San Pedro, what we are gathering after the fact is that the decease, Mr. Graniel had a misunderstanding with one of the notorious gang figure in San Pedro. His home was shot at his Friday last. Police detained the persons who we suspected did the shooting, waited for Mr. Graniel to give the report. He never showed up to give the report. We maintain police presence in the area to protect him and the community from further shootings but we can’t follow the man everywhere he goes. He decided to go out with a tourist. We don’t have a boat to follow him and we can’t put police on every tour guide boat. That was the end of it yesterday. We did what we could have done in terms of detaining those who we believe were responsible and maintaining presence in the area where he lived. I don’t see what else we could have done.”

Isani Cayetano

“Is it safe to say then that Mr. Swank is a victim of circumstance in this case?”

Chester Williams

“That is surely the case.”

The Graniel family declined to comment. Graniel was an active tour guide and one of the first persons to pioneer fly fishing. A statement from the Belize Game Fish Conservation Network says in part that “Mr. Graniel was a huge help to us in our early days. No one deserves to go out that way especially someone so kind hearted.”  Doctor Swank was an interventional cardiologist and worked at the Carilion Clinic in Virginia. A statement from Carilion reads, “Dr. Swank was a well-respected and well-loved colleague who, each and every day, embodied the values that we hold dear.” Police say that Swank entered the country on Saturday; he was on vacation in Belize with his wife and three children.

Channel 5

Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/25/19 12:46 PM

I want to reach out to the family of Dr. Swank - his wife, his children, his extended family and friends .......... please know that this community loves people and life, and cherishes its relationship with the wonderful visitors who come to share time and space with us. Somehow in a future time when you are able to reflect without it being a nightmare, please know that our hearts are with you - that if we could do anything at all to ease your pain, we would do so. Our hearts reach out to you in love and sorrow.
Posted By: Ridgebackmix

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/25/19 02:48 PM

If a gang was involved the government needs to come down hard and eliminate that infestation from Ambergris Caye. Just sickening.
Posted By: dabunk

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/25/19 03:29 PM

Sadly not just Ambergris. Gang murders are now happening in sleepy little Punta Gorda town all the way south. Police doing nothing to stem the tide
Posted By: ChrisW

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/25/19 03:59 PM

The story is getting national news coverage online now in the US. I'm not sure if it will get air time as well, but no doubt that this one is going to hit the country right in the wallet.
Posted By: ckocian

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/25/19 11:47 PM

Never to be solved.
Posted By: Ridgebackmix

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/26/19 02:53 PM

CNN reported on this today.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/25/us/virginia-doctor-killed-belize/index.html
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/27/19 12:03 PM

Police have detained one person in connection with the death of Mario Graniel and Dr. Gary Swank

Police investigation into the shooting death of 53-year-old island tour guide Mario Graniel and American tourist Dr. Gary Swank has led to the detention of a prime suspect, believed to have played a main role in the double murder. The San Pedro Sun also confirmed that other persons have been detained at the San Pedro Police Station for questioning regarding this crime.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun

======================

Police Question Female Friend of Graniel As Possible Murder Mastermind

Those townspeople are also sure to press Commissioner Williams for answers in the investigation of this double murder. We know that police are looking at a number of angles - but principally, the storyline has been that 53 year old Mario Graniel had a personal misunderstanding with one of the island's notorious figures.

Our sources say that the dispute may have been over a 25 year old woman - who, reports say, was friendly with both men. We are told she has been detained by police - and was only allowed to attend the funeral yesterday with a police escort. They took her back into custody after the burial at the island graveyard. Police believe she may have played a central role in masterminding the killing. As for the gunman who pulled up in a boat and shot Graniel and Swank, he is known to police, but reportedly still art large.

And now a two thousand dollar reward is being offered for any information regarding the murder of the two men. If you have information, your can call CRIMESTOPPERS at 0800-922-tips.

Murder of American Doctor Causing Cancellations

The murder of American Doctor, Gary Swank in the San Pedro Lagoon on Sunday is making headlines all across the US - and it's having a major negative impact on Belize's tourism industry. From yesterday we've been receiving reports of cancellations and today those numbers are growing.

The issue is not so much that a tourist was killed - sadly, that has happened before, but it's the place where it happened. 53 year old Dr. Swank was killed on the sea, returning from a day of fly fishing - which is one of Belize's prize attractions. His tour guide Mario Graniel was the target, and Swank was a witness - so he was killed as a sort of collateral damage.

That event has destroyed his family who arrived in Belize with him on Saturday - and now it's damaging the tourism industry. We asked the Executive Director of the Belize Tourism Industry Association about the cancellations and the wider concerns of industry stakeholders:

John Burgos - Exec. Dir, BTIA
"Since Monday yesterday, today cancellations have been consistent. People that were planning to come in November, December, January; already you talking about at least about 7 properties I have reported cancellations already. You know, this is a trickledown effect and people have been questioning, how can you guarantee the safety of my family and myself if I'm in Belize, in San Pedro. It's a serious issue for which we really have to look at how we can fix this problem. We don't want to see an economic down turn of tourism because once you see it trickling down, how do we bring it up, how do we fix it."

Jules Vasquez
"But internationally, my feeling is that the statement put out by the tourism board yesterday was woefully inadequate in terms of you can't put that internationally. Internationally, there needs to be a crisis communication response if Belize is going to send out a message that it is safe for visitors and what happened was an exceptional event with particular circumstances that do not evoke a hazard on the sea. Is that message being effectively communicated internationally?"

John Burgos
"Unfortunately, Jules at this point I haven't seen that message, so obviously the message is not available. We do hope that considerations are being given to present something and that's the reason why I would love for the commissioner, the Minister of National Security to come out and say listen, we looking at this nationally with national strategies with as much resources as possible to find solutions."

Tonight, Burgos is in San Pedro for a town meeting with the Commissioner of Police. The area representative Junior Heredia and the Mayor Danny Guerrero have asked Commissioner Williams to make a presentation to townspeople - some of whom we are told will be picketing to protest police ineffectiveness on the island. Burgos told us what he hopes comes out of the meeting:

John Burgos
"I am flying in a few moments to San Pedro, the Compol, the Minister of Tourism and the Mayor Guerrero is going to be present, they are opening as a public meeting to address. I'm not sure what the commissioner is going to share this evening but I'm really looking forward to having something positive to be presented. I'm really hoping that the Compol understands the seriousness of the situation and how it's already trickling down to negative economic impact on the tourism ministry. Which as you know, you know the numbers of people are employed, you know that over 40 percent of the GDP, we cannot afford that."

The meeting starts at 7:00 pm at San Pedro High School - and we'll show you how it went in tomorrow's newscast.

Channel 7

===========================

Police Make Arrests in San Pedro’s Double Murder

We can report tonight that investigators have made significant progress into the double murder of tour guide Mario Graniel and prominent US Doctor Gary Swank. Reports from the island of Ambergris Caye are that police have detained a woman very close to Graniel. We are told that the woman, whom we will not identify at this moment because no charges have been levied against her, is cooperating with investigators. It is believed that she played an important role in the murders of both men on Sunday morning. Swank and Graniel, both ages fifty-three, were out in the lagoon in Graniel’s skiff when they were shot. Bullets caught the target, Graniel, but Doctor Swank also received several gunshot wounds. Police say he was collateral damage. Investigators are of the belief that Graniel had a beef with one of the island’s most notorious gang figures. His apartment in the Boca del Rio area was targeted sometime between midnight on Friday and early Saturday morning. Bullets were found at the scene as well at bullet holes above his front door. Police say that Graniel failed to report the matter. He was to leave to Corozal on Sunday for a dart tournament which was postponed. Graniel told his friend that he had a job to do and he and Swank headed to the lagoon for a fly fishing activity. The U.S. national was a prominent doctor in Roanoke, Virginia. A statement from his family reads in part, “We are heartbroken at the loss of our incredible husband and devoted father Gary Swank, M.D., who we will forever cherish. His senseless murder has left us to mourn a purposeful life ended too soon.” Swank was ‘a well-respected and well-loved colleague’ as shared by one of his patients, Rhonda Saunders.

Channel 5

[Linked Image]
There is a $2,000 reward for information regarding the murder of Gary Swank and Mario Graniel.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/27/19 06:47 PM

[Linked Image]

A wanted poster has been released for the apprehension of Christian Espat in relation to the double murder of Mario Graniel and Dr. Gary Swank. While police have not indicated if Espat was the one believed to have pulled the trigger, he is the main suspect and is wanted for questioning. In addition, another suspect remains in police custody at this time.

Espat is no stranger to the law, having been charged several times for drug-related offenses and even for the deadly robbery and of American National Cliff Kirk on July of 2018. However, the charges were later dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Posted By: Ridgebackmix

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/27/19 07:20 PM

It sounds like that piece of human garbage should have never been let out in the first place. Now the two lives of respectable people lost. I hope they catch him ASAP
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/27/19 10:17 PM

Christian Espat, Police Person of Interest Wanted in connection with the Double Murder in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, has released avideo stating he has no connection with the murders he is being sought for.

The San Pedro Sun has confirmed that Christian Espat, who is wanted for questioning in the murder investigation of local tour guide Mario Graniel and Dr. Gary Swank, turned himself over to San Pedro Police. He was accompanied by his attorney.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/28/19 11:48 AM

FBI Helping Local Cops to Investigate Dr.’s Murder

His attorney Leeroy Banner stressed that Espat is only currently detained for questioning along with more than a dozen men. Banner says his client was in Benque Viejo at the time of the murder on Sunday morning. Banner also noted that the case is being dealt with by a major crimes team from Belmopan - not San Pedro CIB.

Those investigators are being assisted by FBI agents who've been brought in to lend support to the police department. Last night in San Pedro, Commissioner Chester Williams told us more about the Feds' involvement:

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"Our investigation is centered around 2 persons; a male and a female and we have also received assistance from the FBI. They are here in San Pedro. I just left from a meeting with them. They are looking at some of the evidence that we have collected. There are certain expertise that we do not have in Belize and I have ask them to see how best they can assist us with those expertise."

And while the FBI is lending support, so far, no one has been charged and reports tell us that the female friend of both the suspect, Espat, and the deceased, Graniel was today released from custody without charge after 48 hours.

Dive Team Went Deep For Evidence

And, a local dive team was also activated to trawl up evidence from beneath the sea. As we told you, the double murder happened in the open water on the lagoon side of the island when Graniel and Swank were returning from a fly fishing tour. A gunman pulled up in a boat and opened fire. Williams told us about evidence they've collected from the sea floor:..

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"One of the things that I have directed as part of the investigation was to bring in the dive team to go and dive the area where we believe the incident may have occurred with a view to see if we can collect any evidence that may have been on the bottom of the sea and that was done and certain things were retrieve and so yes we have made some progress where that is concern."

Reporter
"In terms of amount of people detained for questioning, would you be able to say or share whether there is a female involved and some other males as well?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"Yes we have a female detained and some other male persons."

Reporter
"Is the female known to any one of the victims?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"I am not going to go into the details where that is concern."

San Pedro Townspeople Demand Answers From COMPOL

We caught up with Williams last night after a two and a half hour town meeting where he was served up as the featured guest. We say "served up" because that crowd wanted blood, or at least some very solid action oriented answers about what happens next to restore confidence for visitors who feel unsafe and are calling in with cancellations left and right.
7news was at the meeting, and here's how it went:..

A visibly tired Commissioner opened the meeting on a note of vulnerability:

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"I must say that it had indeed been a difficult time for me. I am doing my utmost best with the support of my staff to ensure that we find those persons who are responsible for the death of Dr. Swank and Mr. Graniel. I can assure you that I am not going to rest until they are caught."

And though the Compol certainly looked like he needed some rest - he would get no respite from this crowd - who filled up the basketball court and the bleachers at San Pedro High School. They carried placards with a variety of messages and made their points with passionate conviction.

Police responded with proposals to hire 12 additional special constables, install 10 security cameras across the island, and permanent vehicular checkpoints:

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"We are going to establish a permanent checkpoint. Those officers to be employed will be used specifically to patrol north Ambergris Caye."

But while these are preventative measures, townspeople wanted to know what's going to be done to strike at the root of the problem - which is the criminal gangs that maraud the island:

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"There are certain things that will be done where gangs are concerned, but I am not going to say that at this time. You will just see it when it occurs, but I can tell you that we are going to do all we can to be able to rid San Pedro of those gang members who want to operate and hold the masses of this community hostage."

This mother knows all too well about that. She told the gathering her story of coming forward as a witness to a murder on the island, and then living with the chilling repercussions:

Participant
"I am a mother to the 2 persons I testified against. I have been harassed and threaten and they send messages and calling me and even said that I am going to suffer and the first person that he is going to go after is going to be my daughter. I am standing here and I am not afraid. If I have to do it again, I will do it over and over again. Because if we do not stand up and fight against criminals and against all the cor5ruption, we will never solve the problem. We can be standing here, listening and complaining all we want, but if we do not stand up and do something and help the police officers, how can we expect any different in this community? If tomorrow I see something else, I will get up and report it again. The olny way they could stop me is by what they have been telling by killing me, but before that I would have already reported them."

And that was - mostly - the spirit of the evening that this community needs to come together and face down the cancer of crime which is enveloping it:

Danny Guerrero, Mayor - San Pedro
"We have a cancer and that cancer we need to cure."

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Area Rep./Minister of Tourism
"Today we are here to find solutions. Not to fight with one another. We need one another. We know that we are upset about things, including myself, but it is not time for fighting or for argument. It is time for joining forces."

Danny Guerrero, Mayor - San Pedro
"Organized crime is not easy and we all need to come together with good suggestions so we can move forward and still keep selling Belize a safe, because Belize is still safe."

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Area Rep./Minister of Tourism
"Already we hear it's no longer La Isla Bonita, its La Isla Peligrosa. Very sad, very hurting, but probably it is time that we give back our island the name that it has and the name that it deserves."

But, last night, the optimists were in the minority view, many of these folks have been dealing with the direct effect of Sunday's double murder:

Participant
"Tonight I had to answer another 15 emails from guests who cancelled because they read the New York Post about Belize. What should I tell these guests to make them feel safe and comfortable?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia
"I believe even though it is one case, it is an isolated one ta this point, but we cannot allow this to continue, so you can tell your people that this is one example of what we are trying to do that we are coming together and I am sure that we have done it before and we can do it again, that we have total control again of this types of things not happening."

But those platitudes rang hollow on a night when the community demanded urgent action:

Participant
"Excuse me leaders, if you cannot do your job then you need to go."

Chester Williamss, Commissioner of Police
"My record since I took over as commissioner speaks for itself. I don't sit in an office like a fortress and give directions. As you can see I am out here, I'm hands on and I do this everyday, because I love what I do. Chester Williams knows Chester Williams and my integrity remains intact and it will remain that way."

And through what must be something akin to the fog of war, Williams shared a vulnerable moment:

Chester Williamss, Commissioner of Police
"As the commissioner of police I have an enormous task for a small man like me, but I take my job seriously and I do it with a passion. Since Sunday I've hardly slept, but it comes with the territory. All I want is to ensure that we find those persons who are responsible, get them to prison where they belong and to make San Pedro safer for each and everyone of you and for our tourists."

Heartfelt, no doubt, but we can't say he won the crowd over - after all they had a meeting like this just a year ago - and this time actions, not words will determine the community buy-in.

Police Will Try and Keep Murder Witness Safe

And, as a footnote, Commissioner Williams did offer support to Ms. Zetina - the woman who stood up bravely and said that she was a witness in a murder case - and would testify, even thought she and her family had been threatened.
He had met with her earlier in the day, and here's how he put it:...

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"I have now given directives and it was done in front of her to the OC in San Pedro, to ensure that they provide some level of security for Ms. Zetina. We need her to be alive and we need her children to be alive and we are going to do our part to ensure that those persons who want to reach her and her children have a very difficult task."

Channel 7
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 06/29/19 11:55 AM

Christian Espat Still Detained, No Charges

There are still no arrests in the San Pedro double murder of local tour guide Mario Graniel and his client, American doctor, Gary Swank. Prime suspect Christian Espat remains detained along with a number of other men - as many as 12 we are told.

Espat - who police have described as a notorious gang figure who Graniel had a misunderstanding with - has said he was in Benque Viejo when the murder occurred on Sunday morning.

Channel 7
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 07/02/19 11:47 AM

Cops Release Main Suspect in San Pedro Double Murder

Today's briefing gave the press a chance to ask police about all the suspects they had detained in the double murders of the island tour guide Mario Graniel, and his guest, American doctor Gary Swank.

As we told you last week, their main suspect, Christian Espat turned himself in on Thursday, after making a pre-emptive strike on Facebook to declare his innocence. His attorney said that he was in Benque Viejo Town when the murders happened on June 23rd.

Police told us they questioned and released him:...

ACP Joseph Myvette - Head, NCIB
"In relation to the San Pedro murder investigation, the police had, over the past few days, detained and interviewed several persons. We were looking for one specific person who we believe can assist us in the investigation. That person came into the police's custody on Friday last, where he was interviewed in the presence of his attorney. Certain information was taken from him. There was not any sufficient evidence to detain him otherwise, so he was released. Subsequently, on Saturday, the home of one of those persons whom the person was seeking was also searched. His vessel was impounded for processing, and he is still in custody at this point in time, in the ongoing investigation."

Reporter
"Mr. Myvette, is the Federal Bureau of Investigation still engaged in this investigation?"

ACP Joseph Myvette
"Yes, they are."

Reporter
"Presently in Belize?"

ACP Joseph Myvette
"Yes, they are."

Reporter
"Sir, do you feel that your investigators are getting anywhere closer to solving this double murder? Or do you all feel that the leads aren't aiding you as you would hope?"

ACP Joseph Myvette
"I would not go into the details, other than to say that investigation is progressing, and certain evidence has been had from some of those leads."

Sources tell us the FBI is assisting with evidence which was trawled up from the sea bed in the lagoon where the murder happened. We should note that Mario Graniel and Christian Espat were once friends and associates, and have a female friend in common who has also been questioned and released. Sources also say that Graniel had changed some details in his will just before he was killed.

Edward Broaster, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of operations and crime, also took a few questions from the press about what the department is doing to try and rebuild public confidence in police's ability to keep residents and visitors of San Pedro safe. You heard how some of the residents challenged his police boss, Chester Williams at last week's public meeting. He said that residents should expect to see increased police presence on the island:

ACP Edward Broaster - Deputy ComPol, Ops and Crime
"We have deployed additional officers to San Pedro, in an effort to interdict some of the criminal elements on that island. Over the weekend, we have seized 2 firearms, and a number individuals were arrested, and a number of drugs have been confiscated as well. So, we will continue that operation on the island. There will be additional support, in terms of officers being placed on the island, to ensure that we try as best as possible to mitigate any criminal act that will affect the economy of the island or the citizenry on that island as well."

Reporter
"On social media and in certain quarters of the society, it has been said that whenever it is that incidents such as these would happen on San Pedro, Caye Caulker, or one of the tourist destinations in the country, the police are quick to pull out their resources to solve these crimes, but the same urgency is not given to other murders of other citizens of the country. What do you say to that?"

ACP Edward Broaster
"That is not true, and you all can attest to the fact that you've had local murders where the commissioner of police had expended all resources and effort to investigate those murders. And I can specifically talk about the triple murder in Hattieville and the Swallow Caye 5. We have a lot of resources being expended to investigate those murders. So, that is not the case."

Police are hiring 12 special constables just for the north of the island and have also announced a new intake of 170 police officers.

Channel 7



San Pedro Police release murder suspect Christian Espat after questioning

Espat claims he is innocent of the crime and spoke to The San Pedro Sun upon his release. “Every time something happens on this island, they try to blame me,” said the island fisherman. “I want the community to know that I have nothing to do with this double murder; I am trying to change my life,” Espat claims that on June 23rd when Graniel and Swank were killed, he was off the island in Benque Viejo del Carmen, and it was upon his return to the island that he found out police wanted him. He says he willingly turned himself over to police because he believes he was wrongfully accused. Espat does acknowledge that he has committed a few offenses in the past. “I am not a saint, I have done some bad stuff, but these things that they are trying to accuse me, I have nothing to do with these crimes. As you can all see, every time they remand me, I come out, because they do not have evidence against me, I am unfairly targeted.” Espat is asking for police to do their job well, to apprehend the true criminals and stop incarcerating innocent people.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun




US Embassy on The Murder of American Cardiologist, Dr. Swank

Last night, we told you about the latest developments in the police investigation into the San Pedro double murders of local tour guide Mario Graniel, and his guest, American Doctor Gary Swank, which happened 2 Sundays ago.

The swarm of negative publicity in the US press and the specter of lawlessness has caused mass cancelations of pre-booked tours. The Government of Belize has called it a crisis that needs urgent attention. The FBI is assisting with the investigation.

So, what does the US Embassy have to say about the double murder and the fall out? We got a chance to speak with the US chargé d'affaires, Keith Gilges, at another event this evening in Belmopan, and here's what he had to say about that moment when his office was informed about Dr. Swank's murder:

Channel 7

Posted By: dabunk

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 07/02/19 05:10 PM

What a load of seagull doo doo!!!
Posted By: Marty

Re: Double Murder on Ambergris Caye - 07/16/19 11:13 AM

3 New Suspects Hauled in for Question in San Pedro Double Murder

Three men have detained on separate occasions in respect of the murders of San Pedro tour guide Mario Graniel and American Doctor. Gary Swank.  These suspects, according to Superintendent Alejandro Cowo, are different from an initial trio that was brought in for questioning.  Despite not being able to make an arrest, Cowo says that they are confident that someone had to have witnessed the double homicide on the San Pedro lagoon three weeks ago.

Supt. Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Eastern Division

“That investigation is still ongoing.  Police have detained three separate persons, not the persons that were detained before.  It‘s another set or group of persons that police are investigating at this moment and interviewing at this moment.” 

Reporter

“So there are persons detained pending a live investigation?”

Supt. Alejandro Cowo

“Yes, there are three persons.”

Reporter

“But sir, at the end of the day, you all are undermined by the fact that it happened at sea and as you know, the sea has no witnesses.”

Supt. Alejandro Cowo

“Well, you know that we believe that somebody out there saw what happened, regardless if it is in the sea, on land, there’s always somebody that saw what happened and we are getting information and that is what we are following up at this moment.”

Channel 5

© 2019 Ambergris Caye Belize Message Board