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Dec 12, 2019

Putting an End to the Guatemalan Bandits in the West

A surge in the theft of vehicles, mostly S.U.V.s, in the communities along the western border, has put the police and residents on high alert.  In the past few days, there have been at least five consecutive incidents. The M.O. is that Guatemalan bandits come into the country, steal the vehicles and drive them across the border into Guatemala through the Arenal Road. Often they prey on unsuspecting vehicle owners before pouncing on them. So today, Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams led the department to Benque Viejo, Succtoz and Arenal, where residents are vulnerable and want to take matters into their hands. The police outlined a strategy to take a grip of the situation. Here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo.

 

Hipolito Novelo

Guatemalan bandits have been targeting Belizean car owners, holding them at gunpoint and making away in their cars, across the border through the Arenal Road in the west. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams wants to halt this string of crimes and today he along with his senior command visited the affected area. In the past two weeks, there have been five reported cases of vehicle thefts: two in San Jose Succotz and three on the Arenal Area road.

 

Diana Hall, O.C, Benque Viejo Police Formation

Diana Hall

“The first two incidents two masked men with shot guns and the other three incidents were three Hispanic persons with short arms.”

 

Reporter

“It is believed that these men are linked to each other?”

 

Diana Hall

“We do believe so. The information we received is that they would come into the neighborhoods, take photographs of the vehicle, the target that they want and just react. We have information that it is two Guatemalans and a Belizean. So we have the information of who the culprits are. It is just a matter to get the evidence and to get them.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Would you describe it as a ring of car thieves operating here in the west?”

 

Diana Hall

“I would say from the Guatemalan side because the information that we receive is that these culprits take the vehicles over to the Guatemalan side to a chop shop. So there is a ring over that side.”

The armed masked Guatemalan bandits would illegally make their way to this side of the border, sneak to San Jose Succotz and Benque through the Arenal Road and study their victims. Once they pick the right chance to strike, they pounce with precision. They are being assisted by a Belizean and a network of roads they use to cross the vehicle in to Guatemalan.

 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

Chester Williams

“In the Arenal area those areas that were easily accessible to the bandits who come over now have been blocked with fallen trees and we intend to by the end of the day today dig some trenches across those roads to prevent the bandits from coming over so easily with the use of vehicles and the same you can see in the Succotz area the road that link Succotz to the Benque area. That too has been cut off because that was the area used by the bandits when they take the vehicles they go to Succotz into Benque and then through the Arenal Road.”

 

Chairman of Arenal Village Lucio Sanchez says that residents would see vehicles zooming in and out of the village, into Guatemala.

 

Lucio Sanchez

Lucio Sanchez, Chairman, Arenal Village

“These vehicles they are passing through here. The people see them but you never know what is going on until the patrol coming behind and they say that they just took a vehicle. In Arenal Guatemala there is no law so once the robbers go in Guatemala they are free.”

 

One the vehicle has been spotted on this side of the border. Benque Viejo Mayor Marconi Sosa says he is grateful that the police department is stepping up and taking their concerns serious.

 

Marconi Sosa, Mayor, Benque Viejo del Carman

Marconi Sosa

“I do think that the matter has gone to its extreme now to the point that the Commissioner of Police coming here at the Guatemalan Border is significant and it shows that there is interest in the police to arrest the situation as best as possible. One of the things I had in mind is that if the Commissioner of Police would not have been here and knowing that news is international then Guatemalans would be listening to the news and would feel like we are not acting in any way. His presence here is very instrument. It is going to take more police action, soldier action at the border to arrest this situation.”

 

The Belize Police Department is working closely with their Guatemalan counterparts, carrying out simultaneous operations along the border. And for the Guatemalan bandits, Williams has one message to send.

 

Chester Williams

“We have to send a message to them, a very strong one that we as a country will not going to allow them to disrupt our tranquil heaven of democracy as our national anthem rightly said and all despots must flee and so at the end of the day we want them to know that if it is they come back we will be prepared for them. Whether or not  if they cross the border will be another issue.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo


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