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Jul 1, 2004

Latest crime craze: lobster jacking

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A fisherman from Sarteneja Village is tonight recovering from gunshot wounds after he was attacked and robbed at sea. Twenty-five year old Julian Santiago Ricalde told News Five this afternoon that he and his crew were moored near Rendezvous Caye, around sixteen miles southeast of Belize City, around one o’clock on Tuesday evening. Suddenly a skiff appeared out of the west and when it neared Ricalde’s vessel, all four occupants, masked and armed with what appeared to be thirty-eight handguns, opened fire. Ricalde was hit in his pelvic area and jumped into the water to avoid the hail of bullets. The gunmen took the crew’s cell phones, money, and all the lobster and fish they had on board. Unbeknownst to Ricalde, minutes before, another boat fishing further south near Alligator Caye was also the victim of armed robbery. According to police reports, a skiff loaded with six men approached the fishermen, and one of them fired a single shot from a handgun into the air, ordering everyone to jump into the water. When the fishing boat was empty, the bandits boarded the vessel and looted the lobster, conch, fish, gasoline, money, and cell phones belonging to the crew. News 5 understands that the vessel used in both incidents is described as a black skiff with a yellow line extending from bow to stern, a green interior and a completely black engine. Based on witness statements, at least some of the men involved in the two incidents were Belizean. Others are believed to be Honduran. According to industry insiders, such incidents, which involve boats from both the National Fishermen and Northern Fishermen’s Cooperatives, occur every year, but for so many to happen in just two weeks since the opening of the lobster season is a matter of grave concern.

Allan Burn, Dir., National Fishermen?s Cooperative Board

?Usually one or two incidents every season, but so far we?ve had four this year in the first two weeks of the season?

Janelle Chanona

?What kind of steps the fishermen are taking to combat this??

Allan Burn

?Well, I can?t say very much. Really it?s so kind of very fresh to be saying what they will be doing. But I can say that the Fisheries Advisory Board is having an emergency meeting tomorrow–will be involved in that meeting with some of the people who were in the incidents, the victims, and representatives of the Police Department, and the B.D.F. Maritime Wing; you know, in an effort to try to come up with some kind of solution?

Janelle Chanona

“I would estimate at the value of lobster these days, a robbery of that size would be thousands of dollars??

Allan Burn

?That?s quite right. Yes, because we heard that the last two boats that were jacked lost about seven hundred pounds of lobster; three hundred in one, and four hundred in the other. So, that?s a substantial amount of money.?

The retail price of Belizean lobster is currently twenty dollars a pound.

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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