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May 16, 2006

Guatemalan bandits wreak havoc on Caracol Road

It is not a pleasant story to report but despite major efforts by government, the Police Department, Belize Defence Force and the private sector, another major armed robbery of tourists has taken place on the road to Caracol … and this time a man was shot and a woman sexually assaulted. The incident occurred on Monday afternoon beginning around one forty-five when the first of three vehicles carrying a total of twelve visitors and three guides were returning from the Caracol ancient Maya site. As each vehicle approached the Camp Six turn-off south of the Guacamallo Bridge it was held up by armed men and diverted to a secluded spot. Thirty-five minutes after the first assault a SUV with more tourists approached, but the driver, sensing the danger, sped off. That’s when a rifle toting robber fired a shot which caught one of the passengers in the arm. That visitor was flown out of the country today for treatment in the U.S.A., the bullet still lodged deep in the muscle. Meanwhile, back in the Chiquibul, the twelve captives were relieved of cash, cameras, jewellery and other valuables. A female tourist was also sexually assaulted by the leader of the six member gang. Reports from the tour guides identify the robbers as Guatemalans and it is believed that at least some of the assailants were involved in a similar attack in the area in November of last year. Ironically, following a robbery of tourists last month at the Rio Frio Caves in the nearby Mountain Pine Ridge, security in the entire area has been increased dramatically. Reports to News Five indicate that on Monday there were three motorized B.D.F. patrols operating on the Caracol Road, and one foot patrol at the Rio Frio Caves, in addition to two tourism police stationed at Caracol. The official response to this latest outrage has been nothing short of massive, involving the police, B.D.F., B.T.B., and Archaeology Department. Meetings are also being held with police and army officials from Guatemala as it is believed the criminals are based in the Peten and dispose of the stolen goods on that side of the border. According to our records, this latest incident is the fifth armed robbery of tourists in the Pine Ridge/Caracol area in the last twelve months.

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