Local Piracy Leaves Family Broke and Traumatized Print E-mail
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Thursday, 22 September 2011 00:00

Raul Avila hours after traumatic experienceRaul Avila has been fishing off the coast of Belize for 37 years. His preferred camp site is at Middle Long Caye. Due to the unfavourable weather conditions over the last couple weeks Avila chose not to venture out at sea. As conditions improved he packed his equipment on his “60 motor” boat and went out to sea with his son and colleague. Avila was pleased to find that his lobster traps near Middle Long Caye had yielded a great harvest- more than a hundred pounds of lobster. The crew set up camp and slept, satisfied with their take from the sea.

What unfolded the next morning was beyond the veteran fisherman’s worst nightmares. Avila said that the crew got up shortly after 6 and began preparing something to eat. Suddenly, three guys came out from the bushes armed with high powered rifles and hand guns. Avila said, “At least one of them had an AK-47.” The men ordered them to lie face down on the ground. One of the men hit Avila’s son in the back of the head with a gun. The robbers then took the crew’s huge lobster catch and fishing equipment. They also stripped the boat of its motor and GPS before they made off in a boat of their own. With no motor, phone or other means of communication the crew was left stranded. Luckily, they were spotted by a seaman in the area and taken to the city.

Avila was at the Queen Street Police Station’s Criminal Investigative Branch for a couple hours to report the robbery. After he made his report to the police, Avila told the Guardian that he “never expected something like this to happen”. He said, “They took everything because without a motor and equipment we won’t be able to continue fishing.” He continued, “I am flat broke. I will need help but I am just extremely happy to still be alive.” Avila wished to thank Tony Leslie for rescuing him at sea and Deon Leslie for assisting him when he got back to the city. He is asking the general public and restaurant owners to be vigilant about the sources of their lobster and other sea products. According to Avila, he believes the robbers are from Belize because they spoke “broad Creole”.