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Jul 7, 2004

Five in custody for hijacking at sea

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Just over a week after sensational high seas jackings in the area of Rendezvous and Alligator cayes, Belize City police have netted a group of men they believe were responsible. The five suspects were rounded up this morning by police in a pre-dawn operation in different parts of the old capital. While the investigation is ongoing, head of the National Crimes Investigation Branch, Superintendent Edwardo Wade, says intelligence reports are indicating that last Tuesday’s attack on the crews of the two fishing vessels does not have any link to drug trafficking.

Supt. Edwardo Wade, Head, National C.I.B

?As it is right now, it would appear that is just a case of robbery or piracy at sea if you might put it that way. The five people that we are talking about who are–they were detained this morning before day maybe around four o?clock this morning in a pre-dawn operation organised by the Police Department.?

Patrick Jones

?Where were they detained??

Supt. Edwardo Wade

?They were all detained right here at various houses here in Belize City.?

Patrick Jones

?So these are Belizeans??

Supt. Edwardo Wade

?Well, the people that we have in custody at this time are definitely Belizeans. There was an ongoing investigation from the time we got this information or the reports of this incident at sea, and information has come to us which caused us to go to these people.?

Patrick Jones

?Information saying that they are part of a network or something??

Supt. Edwardo Wade

?How should I put that? It?s information which is saying that these people may be the persons that we are looking for as it relates to that incident at sea.?

Patrick Jones

?Cell phones and other personal belongings of the people in the boats that were robbed were taken, have these been recovered??

Supt. Edwardo Wade

?We have recovered a number of items so far; not necessarily. These items need to be identified by the victims or the complainants in this case. We have not recovered any cell phone I must say at this time.?

?We want to assure our fishermen and other sea goers that the police are doing what they ought to do to try and find those who are responsible for those crimes out at sea. At the same time, we would request that the fishermen as, well as other people out at sea who have to use the seas for a livelihood, to report any incident of any criminal activity which is occurring out at sea, so that we are aware of these incidences and take appropriate and corrective actions in due course.?

Wade says that the suspects should be charged sometime over the next forty-eight hours or be released if the police are unable to come up with enough specific evidence against them. As to the items the police have recovered, News 5 understands that they include two skiffs, an outboard engine and some plastic containers. Wade is encouraging the victims to report to the C.I.B. office on Queen Street to see if they could identify any of the recovered items as theirs. The victims of the robbery reported that armed masked men forced them off their vessels and looted their catch of lobster, fuel, and personal belongings. In one of the attacks, twenty-five year old fisherman Julian Santiago Ricalde was wounded by gun fire.


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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