Belize Cabinet Takes Action To Arrest Crime Wave Western Belize

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The Government of Belize is taking action to curb a crime wave in western Belize following the invasion of a local hospital by gang members, and a string of armed robberies in Santa Elena and San Ignacio towns. Twelve armed robberies over nine months, the shooting death of a Chinese businessman and a gang leader, and an incident where gang members stormed the San Ignacio Community Hospital as one of their leaders was undergoing surgery, have prompted the Cabinet to order the deployment of the Belize City based GI3 (Gang intelligence, Investigation and Interdiction Unit) police gang unit to San Ignacio and Santa Elena (SISE).

A communique issued after today’s regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting says that “The entire Cabinet shares the outrage of the Belizean people at the incident which occurred at the San Ignacio Community Hospital on June 1. Cabinet is grateful that medical practitioners, staff and patients were not harmed by those criminal elements who stormed the facility. Instructions have been issued, … for the escalation of the operation to round up not only those persons who participated in the attack on our medical facility and staff, but ALL gang elements operating in San Ignacio and Santa Elena.”

The communique added that “Cabinet has offered its full support to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Belize Police Department as they launch an intensive operation to address the security concerns of businesses in Santa Elena and San Ignacio. Instructions have been given for an internal assessment of the Police Command and structure in that jurisdiction, with a view to making any changes necessary.”

According to local media reports the SISE area has undergone a sharp increase in crime following the closing for repairs of the Hawksworth Bridge that connects the twin towns near the border with Guatemala. With the bridge closed, cops from the only police station in the area, at San Ignacio, must take a circuitous route to respond to criminal activity on the other side of the river at Santa Elena.