Barrow meets with Belize gang leaders in the aftermath of brutal murders

BELMOPAN, Belize, Wednesday January 9, 2013 – Prime Minister Dean Barrow has confirmed holding talks with the leaders of a notorious criminal gang here after four men were found murdered in an apartment building on Tuesday.

Barrow told reporters that he led a delegation that included National Security Minister John Saldivar for talks with the leaders of the George Street Gang and said that an arrangement had been reached for them to leave the area and not seek to retaliate against people they believe committed the murders.

“I said they went under an arrangement with the government, they went completely of their own free will as a consequence of the discussion we had,” Barrow said, adding that the delegation made it clear during the talks “that it would be absolutely unthinkable for there to be any attempt at retaliation against innocent citizens.

“I will say that right from the start of those negotiations, they freely volunteered their commitment that absolutely nothing like that would happen. Now I say to residents of the City, I say to citizens of this nation that notwithstanding that particular development…the security forces are putting in place all that is necessary to make assurance doubly sure.

“But we do think that it was extremely helpful that we were able to secure that kind of commitment from the leaders. These people have premises outside the city. I don’t know that we can say it’s for rehabilitation purposes. It is perhaps better put as a departure that helps to assure us that they are going to be far removed from Belize City and to help to give us the additional comfort that they mean what they say when they undertake to abide by the laws of this country and to in particular not to engage in any random acts of violence at all against innocent citizens,” Prime Minister Barrow said.

Senior police officers and journalists were forced to scamper for safety as multiple gunshots were fired near the apartment where the bodies of Albert Fuentes, 19; Leonard Myers, 30, Anthony Perez, 28 and 40 year-old Keino Quallo were found.

An official statement said there were no signs of forced entry to the apartment building.

Since the start of the year, at least eight people have been murdered including 22-year-old Feeshia Felix, who was shot while she slept at her home over the weekend.

Police said that several bullets had been fired at the home and one had hit the woman in the head.

Prime Minister Barrow said that a special proclamation would be made with regards “so that emergency measures can be put in place with respect to sealing off” Zone Four of the city.

“I say again that I am convinced that there will not be any organised effort from that zone on the part of the George street people,” he said.

Meanwhile, leader of the main opposition People’s United Party (PUP), Francis Fonseca, has thrown his support behind the efforts of the government to deal with the rising crime situation.

“That is not a political matter. The easiest thing for us to do politically, as a party, is really to do nothing, to just stand on the sidelines and see and let things procced as they are.

“But we want to be engaged and I want to say publicly to the Belizean people that the People’s United Party has been and remains prepared to work with the government in any way possible to try and address this very serious challenge facing our country,” he added.

Fonseca said he was prepared to join Prime Minister Barrow to go into the communities together and re-assure citizens that the state is working “to try to ensure that their lives are secure ands safe that their property is secure and safe.

“I think we have reached this point in terms of the crisis we are facing. It is very, very important, I think for the Belizean people to see that there is national unity on this most important issue and I wanto to make that public appeal to the leader of this country…let us go together into these communities and meet with the people,” he said. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)