Three people are dead including a three-year-old girl and her father after they were caught in a gunfight Monday near a beach in Belize famous for having bricks of cocaine wash up onshore.
Amari Rodriguez, her father Delmar and a man named Carlos Chi were all killed while driving in a golf cart on a dimly-lit road near a lagoon in the San Pedrito neighborhood of San Pedro, Belize, according to a Vice article and reports in local media outlets. Delmar Rodriguez and Chi were both pronounced dead at the scene and Amari’s mother rushed her to a nearby hospital in the golf cart. She was pronounced dead when they got there.
The lagoon in question, Ambergris Caye, has been dubbed as the “Sea Lotto” in the past due to a rash of violent incidents surrounding kilograms of cocaine which authorities say regularly wash up on the shoreline. This has led to ongoing gang wars between local factions of the Bloods and Crips, according to the Vice article.
Ambergris Caye is believed to be such a hotspot for cocaine because of cartel activity further out at sea, wherein bricks of cocaine are believed to be “wet dropped” into the range of particular ocean currents off the coast of Central America which carry the bricks into Mexico. The ocean is not the most predictable mode of transportation, however, and small changes in weather can often send the cocaine off course. An inordinate amount of these lost kilos reportedly end up on a remote northern section of the Caye just south of Mexico’s southern border.
Belizean authorities announced that they had identified two suspects they believed to have been associated with the triple-homicide, both of whom had been arrested on unrelated matters just a week prior to the incident.
“At this time, we’re looking for two individuals, that is, Michael Brown and Christian Espat,” said Police Commissioner Chester Williams. Those two persons are currently being sought by the police and we are appealing to the public that if they have any information pertinent to their whereabouts, please feel free to call us so that we can go and remove these two dangerous criminals off our streets.”
Commissioner Williams indicated that Espat had a lengthy criminal reputation with local law enforcement. According to the Vice article, Espat was investigated in 2019 after an American doctor and his fly fishing guide were murdered, though Espat was never officially charged with the crime. Commissioner WIlliams said he believed Espat had a relationship with Delmar Rodriguez and that some narcotics-related business may have soured between the two, which presumably led to the killings.
“You would know the name Christian Espat is not new. It has been called on numerous occasions for allegedly committing crimes of this nature. What we have gathered in terms of a motive is that there may have been some drugs found by one of the deceased person[s]. As you would know that he, one of the deceased person[s] was a close affiliate of Christian Espat. And apparently after drugs were found, there was a division between them, due to the fact that […] there was not an equitable share of the drugs, and based on that he was targeted by the Espats. So, it is a motive that we’re looking at. We believe the motive is credible, based on what we have gotten from other sources. And so the police continue to look at that investigation.”
According to Vice, Brown turned himself in on Tuesday after Commissioner WIlliam’s remarks but Espat was still considered at large at the time this article was written. Oddly enough, a video was also released to a Belizean news outlets called Breaking Belize News, in which a man claiming to be Espat denied any involvement in the crimes and also claimed to have been tortured while in police custody.
“Му nаmе іѕ Сhrіѕtіаn Еѕраt. І аm ѕеndіng thіѕ vіdео tо thе mеdіа tо сlеаr mу nаmе, bесаuѕе thе роlісе аrе ассuѕіng mе оf а trірlе murdеr thаt І dіd nоt соmmіt,” Espat said. “ І аm nоt runnіng аnd І аm nоt hіdіng frоm thе lаw. І јuѕt саmе tо thе dосtоr tо ѕее іf thе роlісе dіdn’t dо аnу реrmаnеnt dаmаgе tо mу hеаd. І dоn’t knоw whу thеу аrе ассuѕіng mе оf thіѕ trірlе murdеr, bесаuѕе І knоw І dіdn’t hаvе [аnу] mіѕundеrѕtаndіng аnd nо рrоblеm wіth Dеlmаr Rоdrіguеz. І nеvеr thrеаtеnеd hіm nоr hіѕ fаmіlу, wоrѕе hаvе аnу drug-rеlаtеd соnflісt wіth hіm.”
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