In the midst of the recent double homicide in North Ambergris Caye and recurrent drug related murders and incidents, the Belize Coast Guard has stated that it is increasing its presence on the island with additional maritime and foot patrols that extend to the Belize/Mexico border.
Although the northern part of Ambergris Caye is known of its more tranquil environment and high-end luxury resorts that offer a taste of paradise, there is still crime issues that threaten this tranquility and state of paradise. It’s a situation that authorities battle on a daily basis and are working hard towards controlling. It is evident that the majority of the crime is drug related and mostly occurs beyond the hotel zone of North Ambergris; the area has become active with beachcombers who roam the largely uninhabited area in search of drug deposits.
It is this increase in criminal activity related to drug trafficking and drug wars tied to Mexican counterparts that lead to the Belize Coast Guard establishing its northern Forward Operating Base on Ambergris Caye that was inaugurated in 2013. Coast Guard personnel are now permanently stationed in San Pedro and can deployed instantly on operations from the Belize-Mexico border to the northern limits of Belize’s territorial seas. The structure was funded by the US Southern Command to the cost of $1.5Mil US.
Today the Coast Guard announces that it is ramping up its presence and patrols in conjunction with the San Pedro Police Department and the Belize Defense Force. In fact, word is out that the Coast Guard will soon build another base in North Ambergris Caye, which is expected to significantly reduce criminal activity in the area.
Commander Elton Bennett, Vice Commandant of the Belize National Coast Guard told Belize City media that the area of Northern Ambergris Caye continues to be their main effort as the geo-strategic location of that area is so critical for law enforcement.
“We believe that this is the breeding ground for criminal activities, for the criminal network that operates from Ambergris Caye,” commented Commander Elton Bennett to Channel 5 News in Belize City. “We have launched extensive operations in the area trying to hold that area in order to prevent the beach combers from operating. What we see is a turf war in the area of Northern Ambergris where different factions from Ambergris Caye are fighting for territory to control in order to conduct drug transactions that would move to San Pedro Town and thereafter disseminated. So we do see a spike in crime and criminal activities in that area and as recent as the double murders. What we have planned along with the defense force and the Belize Police Department is to increase the intensity of our operations in that area and we will ensure that the area is safe and secure and try to prevent any further criminal activities from occurring in that area.”