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Dec 27, 2013

Still no sign of group of men gone missing

The Belize National Coast Guard has formally aborted a search and rescue mission for a group of fishermen who went missing near Dangriga earlier this month.   Forty-nine-year-old Thomas Young, along with twenty-six year old Derwin Gentle, twenty-four year old Elgin Graham, thirty-four year old Sergio Flores and twenty-six year old Kenrick Devin Chi set off on a routine fishing expedition on December fifth and haven’t been seen or heard from since.  Young’s body was recovered several days later with what appeared to be multiple chop and gunshot wounds.  Despite a massive search effort for the remaining men, coastguard personnel have been unable to locate them.  This morning Commander Elton Bennett told News Five that the effort has since been called off.

 

Commander Elton Bennett, Vice-Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“That case likewise has been suspended. However, we did have a vessel that did some search in that area just yesterday. And likewise there is no signs of anything so we decided to suspend that case also until there is any signs of anything or any reason for us to continue to search then we will do so.”

 

Reporter

Elton Bennett

“Do you know if the families have kept on searching?”

 

Commander Elton Bennett

“We were in contact with one of the family members yesterday who hinted to us that there may have been the possibility of a body in that area; hence the reason why we went back to search. So we didn’t see them on the ground, but we know that their hope is up and they may be searching from time to time also in the area.

 

Reporter

“Of course this is the second group of persons that have gone missing on the sea in almost similar circumstances—out fishing and one body turns up and the rest not one sign of life or where they could possibly be. Now what is believed to have happened given the fact that we know that of course our sea is used as a transshipment point?”

 

Commander Elton Bennett

“Initially we started it off as a search and rescue case, but when we found that one body and it was confirmed the state of how he was, it turned into more a criminal investigation. And us along with the police, the crimes investigation branch of the police, we looked for signs, for anything that could indicate or to steer our investigation in a direction. But we were unable to find anything. We have, at least from our end, we have no indications of who is responsible or what. A week later, we got information of a suspected vessel that was operating in the area, but we found nothing. So it is an area that we have our eyes on. As I mentioned, we were there yesterday and we continue to patrol in that area trying to look for leads or to try to suppress any acts of coastal piracy in that area.” 

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