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Succotz Residents Rise Up Against Bandits

Succotz Residents Rise Up Against Bandits
December 15
12:51 2019

Succotz Residents Rise Up Against Bandits

The residents of San Jose Succotz Village, Cayo have decided to join forces to defend their properties and ward off bandits who they say are Guatemalans that have been terrorizing their community, holding them up at gunpoint, robbing them and stealing their vehicles.

On Tuesday evening, about 100 of them collaborated and went like a unified army, bearing machetes, sticks and knives in their vehicles and on motorcycles to the Nazarene area of their village to face off with anyone they caught loitering in the bushes, where bandits normally did before pouncing on unsuspecting victims. The residents found no one to make an example out of, but they started to cut the bushes where the assailants used to hide before making their move.

The brave residents also organized themselves to form a neighbourhood watch in Succotz to alert each other of anyone – stranger or village thief – who is caught or suspected to be engaged in or preparing to carry out a heist or a vehicle theft. Their “no-nonsense” approach to nip the problem in the bud did not go unnoticed. Two days later, the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams was already in the community conducting tours to get a first-hand view of the terrain and the access roads that the bandits use as their getaway routes.

One villager shared that there is a high demand for Toyotas and SUVs in Guatemala, hence, the thieves visit at night and take pictures of the homes where these types of vehicles are parked before they zero in on their next victim.

Last week Saturday night, Succotz resident, Alvin Chi, 36, was at home with his family when they were terrorized by three armed men who demanded the keys to his 2015 Ford Explorer. He later told the media that one of the men attempted to shoot his wife in the process, but the gun snapped and her life was spared. Chi handed over the keys to the truck and the thieves drove away in the vehicle towards Arenal. The Deputy Mayor of Benque, Alvaro Gongora, also lost his vehicle by similar means when he was heading to his farm with three employees last weekend.

Chairman of Succotz, Alfredo Manzanero, said the collaboration spans further than just the Police Department, because the Village Council and the Area Representative, Erwin Contreras, as well as the Minister of National Security have been asked to take swift action to address the problem.

That action also came quickly through a response from Commander of Operations, Assistant Commissioner, Marco Vidal, who said on Thursday that the Police will implement a three-prong approach to include: the Police intelligence in gathering information, which will go as far as contacting the Ministry of Public Security in Guatemala and their Police, which has their head office in Flores, Peten, with a view to getting their support to conduct joint patrols along the border and to try to recover the stolen vehicles.

On the local front, Police will also increase their numbers in the village and will conduct more frequent and thorough patrols, accompanied by elements of the Belize Defense Force (BDF) through the village and its surroundings, and support for the neighborhood watch program. Vidal said that the Police coverage will also be increased in other communities that have reported suspicious activity. And lastly, there is a joint BDF, Police, Customs and Immigration operation that does patrols in the western-most villages.

Police Commissioner Chester Williams shared that to deter the bandits from entering the village through the access roads leading to Guatemala, those roads have now been blocked with fallen trees. He sounded a very stern warning to the Guatemalan bandits that the Police will be prepared to deal with them if they come back. But the Commissioner said the Police will be looking at stopping both cross-border and local criminals in the village.

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