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Jul 26, 2021

Fisheries Personnel Robbed at Gunpoint while in the Sea Doing Research

A team of law enforcement officers is investigating a robbery involving a duo of Hispanic men and Belize Fisheries Department personnel. The Belizeans were in the Bacalar Chico Reserve conducting marine studies in the water when they were fired upon and robbed by men who came up to them in a boat. The thieves took two firearms, fuel, cell phones and various other items from the vessel.  News Five’s Paul Lopez has been following the story since Saturday.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

A Belizean Fisheries ranger and a biologist were robbed at gunpoint by two Mexicans while conducting studies at sea.


Fitzroy Yearwood

ASP Fitzroy Yearwood, Communications Director, Belize Police Department

“They received reports of tampering with coral in the Bacalar Chico Reserve Area, and when they responded there was a Mexican skiff not too far from there. The occupants of that skiff turned away as if they were going towards Mexico.”


The fisheries officer then proceeded to enter the water to conduct his studies on the coral in the area. That is when the skiff returned.


ASP Fitzroy Yearwood

“When it returned, the officer that remained on the vessel claimed that the captain on that other vessel pointed a firearm at him. While another gained access to their vessel and robbed him of several items, including two firearms and their extra fuel.”


This occurred on Saturday afternoon some twenty-two miles out at sea.  Coast Guard personnel witnessed the incident from a nearby station, but they were unable to assist because a vessel was not available to them at the time.


Senior Chief Mark Sambula, Operations Chief, Belize Coast Guard

“What happened is that the Coast Guard has a vessel at that location. But, at that time, the vessel was not at the station. Yes they could see what happened at sea, but they cannot respond because the incident in the waters nuh.”


The vessel, says Senior Chief Sambula, was taken by the officer in command to San Pedro for administrative work, but returned shortly after an alert was issued.


Paul Lopez

“Do you believe that these Mexicans were aware that your vessel was not at the location?”


Mark Sambula

Senior Chief Mark Sambula

“Yeah, as law enforcement officers we try to do our best. But, like the elements they do monitor our movements. And, they reacted on that. We are very active in that area. We conduct a twenty four hour patrol in that area. We monitor the area. We conduct law enforcement operation in that area. Like I said, it is very unfortunate that the Mexicans, or the criminals, I would say monitor the Coast Guard.”


The victims of the robbery made their way to the nearby Coast Guard base where they were able to receive assistance.  The following day a report was made at the San Pedro police station. We sought comments from the Fisheries Department, but were told that it is a sensitive matter that is being dealt with by police, inter-agencies, and joint intelligence operation center. Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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