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Oct 24, 2014

Murdered Guatemalan Found in the Mopan River

Rudy Leonel Salazar

The body of a Guatemalan male was found floating in the Mopan River near Calla Creek at around eleven Thursday morning. It has since been identified as that of twenty-two year old Rudy Leonel Salazar, who has been missing since Sunday. Salazar and two other men crossed into Belize illegally from Suchitan, Melchor Sunday to go fishing, and they were allegedly fired on by an unknown gunman. One man, Cesar Rodriguez was wounded, treated and has since been escorted back across the border. A man identified only as Kocha Blanca fled back across the border that same day. And Rudy Salazar was reportedly shot and then fell into the Mopan. This morning his remains were handed over to his family in Benque following a post-mortem examination. Mike Rudon was there and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Benque Police believe that on Sunday Guatemalan Rudy Salazar was shot and fell into the Mopan River, just across from the Clarissa Falls Resort. He was listed as missing, since the condition of the river made any successful search unlikely. But nature did what the Police couldn’t, and at around eleven on Thursday morning a Calla Creek resident saw the body floating near the hammock bridge in the community at around eleven a.m.


Insp. Stanley Bodden, Deputy Commander, Benque Police

“Information received of a body floating in the Macal River somewhere behind Calla Creek Village. CIB personnel from Benque Viejo responded to the area where they saw a body floating about fifteen feet from the river banks. The body was observed to be a male Hispanic person…had on a black short pants and a blue shirt with a dragon design. The body was identified to the Police to be one Rudy Leonel Salazar, twenty-two years old labourer of Suchitan, Melchor, Guatemala. The body was retrieved from the water and was transported to a safe location.”


Stanley Bodden

That safe location was this quarry located next to the transfer station outside of Succotz. The procedure to deal with decomposed bodies is to guard it until the medical examiner arrives, usually the next day, and then do an on-site autopsy. But in this case the Police didn’t think it wise to stay overnight in that remote village so near to the Guatemalan border, guarding the body of a Guatemalan who had been murdered. This morning the fire used to burn the gloves and other autopsy equipment was still lit, while white-lime marked the spot where the procedure was done.


Insp. Stanley Bodden

“At the time they observed a gunshot wound to his upper back and also a gunshot wound to his lower back. So there were two gunshot wounds. The one from the upper back exited the throat area and the one from the lower back exited his chest area. The result of the post mortem is that he died from asphyxiation from drowning. From my understanding from the doctor, if he had remained on land he had a fifty-fifty chance of survival.”


The post-mortem examination has also indicated that the shots were at close range with a small calibre weapon. Police believe that supports information they have received which suggests that the men were followed across from Suchitan by another Guatemalan. Suchitan is a small barrio north of Melchor which is a gang stronghold.


Insp. Stanley Bodden

“We are looking closely at the report, and there are some other things that we need to do follow up on, because as we mentioned and even Rodriguez mentioned, he believes that they were followed from Guatemala. There could be a possibility because from our understanding Salazar and the other male person who went back to Guatemala are very problematic people in the community, and the sentiments of the people there is that they felt a sense of relief when they got the news of his passing.”


There were reports from media sources on Thursday claiming an armed confrontation between Police and Guatemalan villagers where the body was discovered. Those reports were not accurate.


Insp. Stanley Bodden

“We have not heard of any confrontation. We have only heard, and this was yesterday, that about fifteen Guatemalans were in the area, but we cannot confirm if that is true or not. At no time was there any contact. There was not even any sighting of any Guatemalan personnel in the area yesterday.”


The Guatemalan authorities had promised to deliver up the man known as ‘Kocha Blanca’ for questioning. Bodden says that has proven difficult, since even the authorities tread very carefully in Suchitan. Mike Rudon for News Five.


The family of Rudy Leonel Salazar, accompanied by a representative from the Guatemalan consulate, received the remains after the examination this morning. The investigation, such as it is, continues.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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