Two tourist kidnapped in Cayo Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 January 2014 00:00

There was a kidnapping of two Americans for at least forty five minutes in various locations of Bullet Tree Falls and Paslow Falls in the Cayo District on Thursday January 9th. But the well coordinated actions of a Bullet Tree Falls Special Constable, Police and others resulted in the release of the kidnapped persons and no physical harm to them.

Two siblings, 18 year old Kathen Kotay and 22 year old Manisha Kotay from Saint Paul Virginia, USA were accompanying Theo Cocchi, the owner of Parrot Nest Hotel in her vehicle about 8:00 am. The Businesswoman, Theo Cocchi, was coming out of her driveway when they were ordered to stop by two armed Hispanic men. The men then went inside the vehicle and drove off, stopping at a secluded area in Bullet Tree Falls where two additional male persons boarded the vehicle. After relieving her of a Smart Cell phone and jewellery, Theo Cocchi was released by the Kidnappers but ordered to come up with US $75,000.00 within two hours for the release of the two tourists. Theo Cocchi then proceeded to San Ignacio Town and called the Police.

Quick actions by Police lead to the discovery of Manisha Kotay later on that morning.

Special Constable Mary Carridi on hearing the ordeal of Theo Cocchi deployed two vehicles and her entire staff to the area near Bullet Tree Falls where the two tourists were believed to be. Police say that Mary Carridi did not hesitate for Police to use two of her vehicles in undertaking the rescue. Her son Chris Cariddi, who was part of the rescue efforts and was armed, was standing by the edge of a cliff when he heard Kathen Kotay down below in a little cave. Chris immediately contacted his mother who in turn called the Special Branch to come and rescue Kathen Kotay.

It was Mary Cariddi’s teams that were behind the three kidnappers as they crossed on foot on the unfriendly terrain. Police were also present but had to  thread on foot as the terrain was impassable to vehicles due to the months of rains in the area. Police were trailing the kidnappers by thirty minutes and then by a series of maneuvers were able to get as close as ten minutes behind the kidnappers. But the intruders were moving fast towards the Belize Guatemala border where they were to eventually find respite by taking to the Calla Creek Road and exiting to Santa Rosa, which is a village in Guatemala.
Theo Cocchi’s white KIA Sportage SUV was also later recovered. Police would also later find in the area, where the Kotay’s were rescued, a blue knap sack with wet clothes believed to belong to the hostage takers.

Both siblings Kathen Kotay and Manisha Kotay were then brought to San Ignacio Town and interviewed by Police. Based on these interviews, Police would learn that the kidnappers had panicked and the tourists free on hearing the passing of numerous vehicles that were in their hot pursuit. Members of this courageous rescue effort were composed of the Belize Defense Force, the Police Force, the Belize Special Assignment Group and Bullet Tree Falls Villagers.

This most recent traumatic experience to the tourists reveals the need for four wheels, all terrain vehicles, when law enforcement conducts their work in the area. Also, while there is a police detachment in Bullet Tree Falls, they do not have access to a vehicle to monitor those entering or going out; especially in the Calla Creek area where several entry points from Guatemala are known to exist. Such a vehicle would be able to more effectively patrol the Santa Rosa Area, El Pilar Road and other areas of the Belize-Guatemala border.