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Nov 26, 2019

Coast Guard Says Murders at Sea are Fisheries-related

While coast guard personnel were out combing the area of Drowned Caye, several miles away from where Gibson and two other fishermen went missing, they happened upon a vessel that they have been searching for since mid-January. At first it was believed that the vessel belonged to Gibson, but the small fiberglass boat, is now believed to be the property of missing fisherman Evan Neal. It was salvaged from a mangrove patch on Monday afternoon.  It had what appeared to be multiple bullet holes near the bow.  PIN, as the vessel is called, is the second of two boats believed to be owned by Neal whose remains are yet to turn up since he was reported missing earlier this year.  Anthony Reneau, Edinio Humes and Evan Neal were on Mapp Caye when tragedy struck.  Humes’ body was later found inside a pit latrine on the island and the other two men were never located.  In June, five other persons were also killed in the vicinity of Swallow Caye.  Contrary to what was initially reported by the Belize Police Department, the coast guard maintains that the violence at sea has to do with a turf war over fishing locations and camps.

 

Isani Cayetano

“Insofar as your search efforts over the past couple days, I understand that you were able to unearth or recover a vessel that may have been linked to a previous incident back in January.  Can you provide us with any information?”

 

Elton Bennett

Captain Elton Bennett, Vice Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“Just to give you an overview of what we unearthed, we were out on a search effort earlier in January of this year looking for a target vessel that was suspected to be involved in criminal activities.  We were only able to find that vessel yesterday, semi-submerged in the mangrove area off Drowned Cayes and not directly linked to this case at all but within that area, in that lagoon area in the Drowned Cayes area that we refer to as the graveyard where we we’ve recovered quite a few abandoned vessels.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now let’s go back a bit, I know that in June there was the unfortunate case of five persons losing their lives in the Swallow Caye area as well.  I know that there were certain theories put forward that it may have been drug-related, but could there have been any other indication that perhaps this has something to do with fisheries or some other form of activity in the area?”

 

Captain Elton Bennett

“What we’ve seen is the impact of lucrative fishing grounds.  The value of lobster and conch and fish traps in that area far surpass the traditional fishing fleet.  We do believe that this is a turf war amongst fisher folks and the Swallow Caye Five, from our assessment, could very well have been the result of turf war amongst fisher folks.  We weren’t able to find any leads of it being drug-related.  So from the coast guard’s perspective that’s a fishing issue.”


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