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Friday, September 19 2014 @ 01:52 PM EDT

American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Boats and SailingBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - A pair of armed and dangerous assailants brutally attacked an American couple last night aboard their sailboat anchored in the "South Anchorage" of the Bocas Marina, next to Isla Colon in the province of Bocas del Toro in the Republic of Panama. The attack started after midnight last night, during early morning hours today, Sunday, 8 July 2012. The assailants pulled up next to the couple's sailboat at 1:00 am early this morning in a typical Panamanian wooden cayuco. The two assailants boarded the sailboat, held the couple at gunpoint, and tied them up. They ransacked the boat and stole everything of value, including cameras, electronics, a computer, cash, and jewelry. The attack lasted at least two hours, during which time the victims were assaulted and brutalized. The victims were finally able to put out a call for help on the radio at 3:30 am in the morning, after the assailants had left.

A Description Of The Assailants: The two men are described as skinny, black men, medium height, and short hair. They spoke both English and Spanish. During the assault one of them called the other by the name "Emilio." The victims say the men had a "Jamaican accent" but it's unlikely they were actually from Jamaica. It's much more likely the attackers are from the Afro-Panamanian community in the area of Bocas del Toro. Many of the members of the "Afro-Antillean" community are West Indian immigrants from Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique and Jamaica, brought to Panama in order to build the Panama Canal in the early 1900's. There are several concentrated communities of Panamanians who are members of this "Afro-Antillean" community, specifically on Isla Bastimentos and on other islands in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago.

Dinghy Recovered: The assailants took the sailboat's dinghy when they left. After dawn this morning someone spotted a dinghy floating free off of the coast of Isla Carenero. Someone swam out and recovered the dinghy. It's possible (assumption on my part) the assailants took the dinghy in an attempt to keep the victims from being able to leave their boat, and they simply abandoned it near Isla Carenero as they made their escape in their own cayuco.

Police Report Filed: The victims have filed a complaint with the National Police in Bocas del Toro. The woman was taken to the hospital.

A Possible Earlier, Related Attempt? There is a report that some would be assailants - possibly these same two men - tried to board another sailboat at 10:30 pm last night, on Saturday 7 July 2012. Reported these would-be victims were able to "repel" that boarding attempt, and nothing else happened. I suspect the DIJ detectives will be investigating and comparing the details to determine or confirm if the two events are related. It seems like too much of a coincidence to think they might not be related in some way.

Editor's Comment: Obviously this is a very serious attack. I've passed this information along to my contacts in the highest levels of the Panamanian government, as well as the Panamanian news media. I'm sure the National Police and the Department of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) on Isla Colon will be doing their jobs to investigate this case, identify and find the culprits, and to bring them to justice. It's bad that this happened. From what I understand this couple had only been in Panama for a couple of weeks, and the cruiser community is burning up the networks discussing this situation. The Panamanian government, law enforcement, security, and judicial authorities are aware of the situation, and they know that the best thing they can do now is to find and punish the culprits as quickly as possible. If you have any information you think might be related to this investigation or of value, you can report it to the National Police, the DIJ, the FBI, or if you would like a confidentiality firebreak - send it to me. And, I'm sure the community of English speaking expatriates in Bocas del Toro will band together to help and support the victims. For now, let's focus on catching the bad guys. Please spread the word.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama | 5 comments | Create New Account
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American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Authored by: susangg on Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 03:56 PM EDT

This incident appears to be a serious escalation in what has been an increasing crime wave in the Bocas islands. Almost every day, there is a new burglary or robbery, and only on a rare occasion is anyone arrested. In some cases, the criminal is identified, but the police either decline to make an arrest (even though the victim has provided all cooperation, including making a police report and duly providing all information about the stolen property), or when they do make an arrest, the accused is released the next day (and no, they are not all juveniles).
It is widely believed that certain known criminals are being given a "get out of jail free" card because they have relatives employed by one or more police agencies. It is also widely believed that at least one known "fence" in Almirante is under some sort of "protection" by elements within law enforcement, since his place of business is never subject to searches or "sting" operations even though victims have reportedly identified stolen property there.
These allegations and/or beliefs may be true, or they may be totally untrue. In order to determine this, an outside agency needs to be brought in to undertake an investigation of why the police are, except in a very tiny minority of cases, unable to solve crimes, catch the criminals, arrest the criminals or keep them in jail.
What is known is that the response to property crime is either non existent or extremely weak. When police are called to a crime scene, they don't show up, or they show up the next day. A frequent excuse is "we did not have any gas in our boat." Isn't it the responsibility of the police to ensure, in advance, that they have the ability to respond promptly when called to a crime scene? The rest of us know that we have to have gas in our boats. Why are the police not aware of that? When stolen property is returned, it is more often due to "detective work" by the victim or his friends and the issuance of a cash reward for turning in the criminal, than by police work.
It is widely believed in the islands, particularly by the expat community, that police agencies have either been instructed by higher authority or alternatively, have chosen, to place top priority on issuing revenue-generating traffic citations, rather than placing top priority on investigating and solving crimes. Given the small number of police officers assigned to Bocas, why are there so many of them sitting on the road, doing drivers license, registration, and sobriety checks? This is not to say that those things should not be the subject of law enforcement activity, but they should be at the bottom of the priority pole, not the top.
A couple of years ago, a crime wave in one part of the islands resulted not in a crackdown on criminals, but rather, on a series of "raids" on homes of expats, all of whom were "raided" within a week of reporting a robbery. (The excuse for the raids was that the crime victims were "suspected" of having drugs and/or guns.) Shortly after that, a known criminal who had been arrested for several of the robberies was released. He is still free.
Now, we are seeing an increasing number of violent crimes, involving criminals using guns. A few weeks ago, there were two armed robberies of tourists, on popular beaches frequented by tourists, Red Frog Beach and Wizard Beach. Two women had their purses taken at gunpoint, and one was chased into a resort (one can only imagine what might have happened had she been caught by the criminal before she reached the safety of the resort.)
This incident, involving the marine equivalent of a "home invasion" in which a couple was terrorized for two hours in the middle of the night by armed gunmen who occupied their boat, is an even greater escalation in the crime wave. It has been reported that the female member of the couple was sexually assaulted.
It would be unfair to blame law enforcement for the fact that criminals commit crimes. However, it is fair to blame law enforcement when the response to a crime is not satisfactory. The police may not be able to "protect" you from crime, but they should be prepared to immediately respond when there is a crime.
I have personally met several police officers in the islands. They all seem like nice guys (and gals), and are unfailingly pleasant, polite, and charming. And I'm sure that the majority of them are honest and want to do the best job they can. But for whatever reason, the law enforcement agencies on the job in the Bocas islands are not performing in a satisfactory manner...and that can only encourage criminals to continue their course of conduct. Perhaps this horrific incident will result in a decision by the powers that be to fix the problem.
Now would be good.

American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 09 2012 @ 07:09 AM EDT

Man what up in Panama . If you are a American do they hang a target on your back as soon as you step off the plane.

American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 09 2012 @ 10:01 AM EDT

It has become known to me that the Police took seven, I repeat seven hours to respond to the call on this act of Piracy in thier own Harbor. Are they in on this crime, were they giving the Pirates time to get away, someone must know the answer. Who is accountable for the actions, or lack of action in this jurisdiction?
This was not a breakin, this was an act of Piracy on an American flagged vessel, what is the Coast Guard, who come here quite frequently to let our boys spend thier money here, what can they do?

American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 09 2012 @ 10:07 AM EDT

This is the " Negative " kind of publicity that gives the country of Panama a bad image , but then again I heard about recently that an Ex-Pat from my C.Z. days who had been retired and living in a Costa Rican ex-pat community was also a subject of a home invasion by several " black-dressed " assailants. Only by his quick thinking reactions and a legally registered weapon he was able to survive to talk about it. Keep in mind what I'm stating that it's not just in Panama. If that boat captain had a weapon on-board he might have thwarted this attack at best or at worst knowing the local authorites INIATIVE sometimes he would have been charged with not having a ( PERMISO de PORTAR ARMAS ) or weapons permit,.. .or if he had used it he would have been be subjected like that Ex-Pat in Chiriqui recently acquitted for Homicide defending himself..... a typical no-win situation.... ...Trust me I still keep my Shotgun permit up to date and it's good for a 5- year period at a time and it's one of the reasons that I still maintain a residency there.......but as a reminder to the Alejandro48 contributor...yes , you are a target as an American as soon as you get off the plane........just be aware of your surroundings, travel in numbers and hide all valuables..etc. etc............... I hope they catch the .....BAST--D'S......who did this to that couple in Bocas.....

American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Authored by: Don Winner on Monday, July 09 2012 @ 10:52 AM EDT

@sheltie - These people had just arrived in Panama a few weeks ago as "cruisers" on their sailboat. As such, it would have been impossible for them to be able to obtain a legal weapon permit in such a short time. Maybe that's why they were targeted. Maybe the assailants knew they had just arrived and therefore were less likely to be armed. Just supposition on my part.

Don