Police and Rescuers Frustrate a Kidnapping Plan In Western Belize

vlcsnap-2014-01-09-18h52m59s151Quick community and policing efforts led to the recovery of two tourists -a brother and sister, who were kidnapped and held for ransom. It happened this morning in the Cayo District.

vlcsnap-2014-01-09-19h29m11s32According to Theo Cocchi, owner of Parrot Nest, a hotel situated in Bullet Tree Village, at about 8:00am, she left the resort on board her  white KIA Sportage SUV along with two guests 18 year old Kathen Kotay and 22 year old Manisha Kotay both American Indian students of the USA.  While exiting the drive way they were approached by two Hispanic male persons armed with handguns.

vlcsnap-2014-01-09-21h56m22s85The men then boarded the vehicle and then drove off, stopping at a nearby cemetery area, where they met with two other men, also of Hispanic descent. They then took off in the direction of Paso Falls road in Bullet Tree Village. While on Paso Falls road they ordered everyone out of the vehicle and set down their demands.  They told Cocchi that she needed to come up with US$75,000 in two hours time and that they would hold her guests until she got the money.  Next, they confiscated her cellphone and ordered her to drive away in her vehicle and contact them on the cellphone when she got the money.  The men threatened to kill the two siblings if the Police got involved.

vlcsnap-2014-01-09-21h51m20s132Theo Cocchi then drove off and immediately contacted authorities. What came next was a manhunt led by members of the community.  We spoke with one of those responders today.

vlcsnap-2014-01-09-18h52m03s77Mr. Waight:  “We get the news that the people were being taken to Paso Falls area.  So, we tried to rescue them with the police too, because we no got guns. We just got machetes.  We tried to move as fast as we could to rescue this people.  We went to the police and try get them because they don’t have vehicle.  The mobile was there afterwards and then we ended up going to Paso Falls area looking for the direction where these people went.  With the help of the police and the cooperation of our friends, brothers, we find them.  I think the guys were more like on the jungle, like a property area, but this is a jungle area.  The girl come out first and they had the guy somewhere else”.

Understandably, Kotay was shaken up.  Not only was it a terrifying experience, but her brother was still in the wooded area.

Mr. Waight:  “She was frightened; she was really scared because these guys were having guns and they were really scared”.

Reporter:  “How did you guy found the brother?”

vlcsnap-2014-01-09-19h30m00s0Mr. Waight:  “She told us that her brother…they have him lee bit ahead.  So, we ended up rescuing the brother with the police too”.

Reporter:  “About the guys who took them, did you guys managed to see them anywhere?”

Mr. Waight:  “Well, the police is the one who took part of it.  So, we did not have to do with it so much, but the police is the one that questioned the people and hold them”.

Fortunately, the pair was not injured and are in good health. The incident has alerted the Belize Tourism Board, who sent a team to meet with the Kotay family this morning.

vlcsnap-2014-01-09-19h20m38s0Kevin Gonzalez- Coordinator of Tourism the Police of the BTB

“Early this morning, I decided as usual to sop in and discuss with the owners and see if we could meet the guests to talk to them about what happened and give them some safety concerns, discuss with them to make them feel comfortable. It is something that we vlcsnap-2014-01-09-19h23m25s16normally do quite often and when I see that, it’s something that I want to do often.  Whenever there is an incident, we have a team that responds to these types of incidents”.

While today’s episode is an isolated one, Gonzalez says that the BTB remains vigilant  and has implemented a policy to provide visitors to Belize with efficient security and shelter.

In the meantime, the search for the kidnappers continues. The entire area of Pas0 Falls road, Santa Rosa Road and Cala Creek was checked for the suspects where three men, believed to be Guatemalans, were sighted by residents fleeing to the border.  Police found in the area a blue knap sack with wet clothes including an orange sweater and wet blue sweater believed to be the clothes that the suspects were wearing at the time.  And while no one was hurt during the kidnapping ordeal, stolen from the owner of Parrot Nest were two gold rings.

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