Suspects in beach area home and restaurant robberies arrested
by Eric Jackson
According to reports by Rob Brown and others, at least four arrests have been made of suspected members of the gang that has staged about a dozen home and restaurant invasion robberies and several more warrants are pending. The police believe that one of those in detention is the gang's leader.
The arrests and renewed community clamor followed the second robbery of the Rancho los Toros hotel and restaurant, in a somewhat isolated part of San Carlos district's El Nance corregimiento. Several of the victims of the second robbery were Boquete residents and they called the hotline of that community's anti-crime group, Alto al Crimen. The group put the private detective who works with them, Martín Ferrara, on the case.
In the first robbery one of the maleantes used a stolen iPhone to take photographs, which were automatically uploaded online. That fact was quickly disclosed to police, but for whatever reason they did not succeed in following that lead. Ferrara did, leading to the arrest in Panama City of the picture taker. That wannabe photographer maleante reportedly turned over and gave information identifying other members of the gang.
Brown, a Canadian resident of Santa Clara, reactivated his Neighbours Helping Neighbours (NHN) organization after the second robbery and established a reward fund to which a number of real estate developers, business owners and residents have contributed. In coordination with the Boquete group and a neighborhood watch organization in Gorgona NHN held a June 6 meeting at Rancho los Toros. A number of police and government officials attended that gathering, at which the arrests and outstanding warrants were announced.
Presuming that the right people were arrested and that the gang members still at large will also be put out of action, this ends a violent rampage that had many beach area residents living in fear. Most probably this gang had nothing to do with the abduction and murder of Coronado resident El Moynan, which appears to be related to the organized criminal rackets. There are also other gangs with different methods of operation that have staged many unarmed burglaries in the area and remain active and at large. It is part of an overall national crime wave that the government minimizes but public opinion polls indicate follows only the cost of living among Panamanians' top concerns.