Police give latest developments in abduction case

The kidnapping and subsequent safe return of a one year old baby girl has stunned the nation. The incident took place on Sunday evening in Corozal Town and the kidnappers made a huge ransom demand – US$450,000. They even threatened to harm the baby if the matter was reported to the police and the press. But police intervened and the baby was recovered and handed back to her mother safe and sound. And today police held a press conference in Belize City, where they discussed the incident. Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie opened this afternoon’s meeting by describing the crime as “heinous and unspeakable” and outlining the importance of concealing the meat and bones of the matter from the media due to safety issues.

Allen Whylie – Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie:
vlcsnap-2013-03-28-09h12m21s147I must say that it’s been quite a number of years, I believe perhaps as much as ten years, that we’ve not had such a situation, and I believe that it was only right to put it out there.  And I also want to thank the media, because these cases are very technical, and ultimately we want to see the victim returned alive.  We had asked the media not to release that information, because I do know that the media has its sources and ways to get information. I’m glad to note that they cooperated with us.  so I must place my profound gratitude on the records to the media for that.

According to Superintendent Andrew Ramirez, lead investigator, he got important help from senior Police units in the early hours which led to a satisfying conclusion.

Superintendent Andrew Ramirez – Lead investigator:
vlcsnap-2013-03-27-20h25m24s240First of all, I’d like to begin by saying that there is a God and God is great. We must say thank because of the safe return of the child. I must say thanks to the community and the media.  The Commissioner said it in a nutshell, yes there was an incident in Corozal [which became] a kidnapping.  Thanks for the support from the leadership of the Commissioner, Mr Blackett, Mr Vidal, officers attached to Corozal, Orange Walk, Mr Myvette the regional Commander.  We were all at the get go of the initial information.  About 8:50 p.m. everything was activated.  Mr Myvette was communicated with, Mr Commissioner, and others. Gentlemen, we have a very serious concern, and we did our best to show the community we take life very serious. We worried every second, about the safe return of the child.    

The child was checked at the time of her handover and again in a a later medical examination which found no visible injuries or signs of molestation. And ACP Russell Blackett credited multiple leads police followed for the return of the child, downplaying the reported role of one individual who it was claimed alerted police to the kidnapping plot.

ACP Russell Blackett – National Crimes Investigation Branch:
vlcsnap-2013-03-28-09h15m47s149Again you will find that they planned certain tactics, to get certain results. And that could have been the case, that somebody did not like what occurred.  We had calls from the morning, tips, leads that we were checking out, because there was a child found in the bush next to the victim’s house, things like that.  We answered about 15 calls, so to speak, all over the Town of Corozal.  More than likely we did not know where that was coming from.  It could have been the kidnappers, who were trying to move us away from where we were.  But we continued on a total deployment of the entire area, and I guess the pressure built up eventually.

Then they got into the latest developments in the case. Head of National Crimes Investigation Branch Assistant Commissioner Russell Blackett began by saying that police have identified, for the most part, whom they believe is responsible for the incident.

ACP Russell Blackett – National Crimes Investigation Branch:
Yes, we do believe that we know who these people are.  That is the purpose of locking down the entire Northern part of the country, where we believe the activities were being carried out between Corozal and in the Orange Walk area.

According to ACP Blackett and lead investigator Superintendent Andrew Ramirez of Corozal, no Mexican nationals are currently among the persons in custody and during the ongoing investigation nothing has been established to suggest one way or another if there is any involvement from across the border. Blackett also clarified that at no time was the child taken toward the border before she was rescued by police.

ACP Russell Blackett – National Crimes Investigation Branch:
To correct that, the vehicle was not traveling to the Santa Elena border as though they were trying to take the child across.  It occurred inside Corozal Town.  So if anybody would want to say that probably it appears that the child would have been taken across the border, that is not so. It occurred inside the Town of Corozal.  And this had occurred due to the fact that we had covered the ground.  We went after certain leads that we had, and a heavy Police presence that we sent out. We then understood that they tried to move the child about, and were not successful in doing that.

The Department is pursuing a number of leads including a recording of the male voice who called the mother around 11 Sunday night and formally demanded the ransom, threatening that “something” would happen to the child if there was no response by Tuesday when further instructions would be given. Superintendent Ramirez, who is also officer commanding Corozal Formation, discussed the possibility of inside involvement:

Superintendent Ramirez – Officer commanding Corozal Formation:
That’s an angle that we have taken.  But you must understand initially, the most important thing was to get get back the child. So we have that angle covered, and now we’re going to look at all aspects of the investigation.  Whilst we have persons of interest detained, we have to look at former and present Police, we have to look at all of these angles as investigators.  We should not just be comfortable about the child returning.  We need to get the perpetrators, the ring, the whole organization that was involved in this incident, in order to show the community that we will not entertain any type of actions like these.  

But ACP Blackett also noted the importance of prior planning to pull off this kind of crime:

ACP Russell Blackett – National Crimes Investigation Branch:
She was alone. They realized that she was a soft target. On a daily basis, 24 hours a day, people are out there looking around at targets.
Yes, there’s always a likelihood that these things will occur.  We have the criminal elements out there who intend to make easy money.  We have the international media that they look at.  They have the websites, things they read, and they sit at home and they have time to plan.

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