Military Operation kills 3 men who had stolen B.D.F. weapon
Three persons were killed on Saturday… but before you think it was the regular gang related violence in Belize City, it was not. A joint patrol of the Belize Defense Force and the Belize Coast Guard engaged in a full scale battle with armed civilians who brandished similar weapons as well as both regular caliber and military issued ammunition. The patrol encountered combatants on the north end of San Pedro in the Bacalar Chico and Rocky Point areas that borders Mexico. The darker sister to tourist populated and cobbled San Pedro streets is at the North end of the island which is desolate, overgrown and is well known for wet drops of South American cocaine. And though no parcels of cocaine were found, when all the shells were expended and the smoke from the gun barrels cleared, they uncovered a large cache of weapons. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports on the Bacalar Chico shooting and the links to the B.D.F.’s Weapons Store.
After receiving a tip of hostile activity on Ambergris Caye, a joint forces team headed seventeen miles north of San Pedro to the Bacalar Chico area of the island. A foot patrol began at six a.m. on Saturday morning. Two hours later they found trees that were broken, shot down during target practice with high powered weapons. One mile before reaching Rocky Point, a ten minute battle with high powered weapons ensued with unknown enemies. Captain John Borland, Commandant of the Belize National Coast Guard said that by twelve p.m., three assailants were dead.
Captain John Borland, Commandant, Belize Nat’l Coastguard
“The operation was launched as a result of information gained on armed groups operating in this area, acting hostile to elements of the community; causing them to fear for their lives and their welfare. The security forces; recognizing that this was our direct responsibility, launched that operation to clear the area of any forces that were indeed operating in this area—armed or unarmed—as long as they were acting hostile and conducting illicit or illegal activities. The operation was inserted at the Boca Bacalar Chico area and then progressed by foot to clear an area approximately ten miles extending south to San Pedro. Shortly after the patrol deployed, they began recognizing telltale signs of what they believed were illicit activity. They came across empty shell cases fired from weapons that they were familiar with; they saw boxes that contained these ammunition; they recognized some of the vegetation and trees being used as targets were clearly identified, visible bullet marks on these vegetation. The patrol then realized that this was indeed potential hostile environment and began operating tactically as we are taught to do when approaching any hostile area. Approximately four miles into the patrol, the lead scout signaled that he sighted someone in the vegetation about three hundred meters from where the patrol was located. The patrol then halted and the commander ordered that they would leave their heavy equipment behind and then proceed in order to conduct an assault if they were engaged. Shortly after they began advancing tactically, they came under fire. The patrol commander then ordered that the patrol took cover and return fire in the direction where hostile fire was coming from. They recognized that four individuals were in the area where the hostile fire was coming from. The patrol then started firing and maneuvering towards that location to assault and fight through what we then identified as an enemy objective. The area was cleared and the enemy position was neutralized. The patrol then searched the area where they discovered three casualties. The enemy forces suffered three casualties described to be dead at that time. There were no casualties suffered by the friendly forces or the joint security force patrol.”
One of the four gunmen, who was fifty meters away, escaped into the vegetation. The identity of only one man, Kendale Flowers, a Faber’s road resident, was identified as one of the persons killed during the crossfire.
David Henderson, Acting Commissioner of Police
“One of the persons has been identified as a person from Belize City and known to have affiliation with well-known gangs. The other two still have not been identified as yet. There must be an investigation whenever somebody dies. It must be investigated.”
“Is there any investigation going on simultaneously regarding the weapons and Kendale Flowers and his associates?”
“Yes there is a full investigation being carried out at this time. One, as to the identity of all weapons found, as to the incident that occurred. At this time the weapons are being checked carefully. We know that one of them is from the B.D.F. that was stolen; the others are yet to be identified.”
In the investigation carried out by the Belize Coastguard, it was revealed that at least one of weapons found, was amongst the forty-two stolen from the B.D.F.’s Weapons Store House in October 2011.
“One M-sixteen A-one rifle, two M-four carbines, one nine millimeter Ruger pistol, three bullet proof vests, two binoculars, five rifle magazines, a large amount of five point five-six millimeter and two-two-three ammunition and a small quantity of marijuana. We are very familiar with those types of weapons. The M-four carbines are the exact kind of weapons that our security forces use—meaning the B.D.F. the Coast Guard and the Police Department. The M-sixteen rifle in particular has already been identified as one that went missing in the weapons that were stolen from the B.D.F. The other weapons are still being investigated. They are in the custody of the Forensics and Special Branch and they are taken to the Lab because as you know, the serial numbers have all been filed off. So it needs to be looked at with better equipment than just the visible eyes.”
Dario Tapia, Commandant, B.D.F.
“The vests are black in color. Certainly it is not something that the B.D.F. uses. In terms of the binoculars; we have looked at them. They are two different types. They are of the commercial type and not the military type. So their equipment would appear that those are acquired from the civilian shops or shelves.”
The bodies and evidence handed over to the police for further investigation. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.