South Americans hijacked Cessna Caravan in Placencia southern Belize

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023


The Belize Police Department along with Civil Aviation continue investigating the crash landing of a Cessna Caravan in the southern Placencia Peninsula in the early hours of Monday, October 16th. Civil Aviation said it was not an approved flight and as such the incident is being criminally investigated. Preliminary information revealed the aircraft, belonging to a local airline, had been stolen from the Placencia airstrip and flown by a pair of South American nationals who perished when the aircraft crashed shortly after taking off in the darkness of the early morning.
The identity of the duo flying the stolen aircraft belonging to Maya Island Air was revealed as a citizen from Argentina and Venezuela. As per police investigation, around 4AM a group of about four men held up the security guard at the airstrip. The security was tied up and two of the assailants took off in the plane on a rainy and windy morning. However, after flying a short distance, the aircraft went out of control and crashed. The airplane was engulfed in flames killing the pilot and co-pilot.
The crash landing affected the electricity supply to the peninsula, and residents near the crash site heard and saw the plane on fire and said they could hear the persons trapped inside screaming for help. The intensity of the fire made it impossible to render any assistance. It was also noted by investigators that witnesses heard explosions from the aircraft suggesting that the plane jackers were carrying additional fuel in containers.
As the investigation continues, the authorities are trying to understand the purpose of this heist. They speculate that the plane was to be used for the transportation of drugs. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Hilberto Romero said they are looking at this matter from all angles. “Several items were recovered from the remains of the aircraft and those are analyzed,” he said. Romero said they will update the public as the investigation continues.No one has been detained relating to this incident which shocked the Placencia community. Residents in that part of the country, which is a popular tourism destination, said they had never seen anything like this. However, some people pointed out that they frequently hear suspicious activities at the Placencia airstrip.
Over the years, Belize has been targeted as a transit point for narcotics originating from South America heading to North America. In most of these cases, airplanes are stolen and landed in Belize with the illegal cargo, which is then moved by land into Mexico and ultimately the United States of America. It is believed that the Cessna Caravan taken from the Placencia Airstrip was going to be used for such illegal activities.


 

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