A sixty-nine year old U.S. citizen, originally from California, was identified yesterday as the victim of an abduction and murder in Roatan, Honduras, according to a Honduran newspaper El Heraldo.

The newspaper reports that the body of Philip Foster Brown was found in a ravine near a road leading from West End to West Bay in Roatan on Tuesday.  Mr. Brown, who had lived on the island of Roatan in a community on West Bay for several years, disappeared from his home several days ago, leaving a large pool of blood on the porch of his house.  His corpse was found yesterday wearing only shorts with a bag over his head.

Mr. Bown was one of three “foreigners” (i.e., not Honduran) in Roatan who died under mysterious circumstances according to the Honduran press.

Roatan is a popular port which is heavily marketed as a paradise getaway by Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean.

We have written about cruise passengers and at least one crew member who have been victimized in violent armed robberies over the years in this idyllic yet dangerous destination, earning it a spot (#2) on my list of the ten most dangerous cruise port in the world several years ago.

As we wrote before, like many other Caribbean islands, the police in Roatan are either indifferent or corrupt. The legal system is somewhere between barbaric and non-existent.  Crimes against U.S. citizens are rarely solved or prosecuted.

Since 2010, Honduras has had one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, ranging between 59 and 86 per 100,000 according to the U.S. Department of State.  Honduras is far more deadly than even the most violent U.S. cities.  Chicago, for example, has a per capita murder rate of 24 per 100,000. (The per capita homicide rate in the U.S. is a little over 4 per 100,000).

The U.S. State Department states that: “Roatan and the Bay Islands are geographically separated from and experience lower crime rates than on the mainland and other Caribbean islands; however, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur.”

The State Department Crime and Safety Report also states that “Cruise ship passengers should take safety precautions, avoid unfamiliar areas, and book only with reputable tour companies during their stopover. Cruise lines and port agencies have approved tour companies offering packages. Port agencies have worked to improve taxi service to/from ports. The vast majority of cruise line passengers experience no problems, but incidents of armed robbery (like this one) and carjacking have been reported.”

November 23, 2018 Update: A resident of Roatan who does not feel comfortable revealing her name left this comment: ” I live on Roatan. Over the last ten days there has been three kidnappings/abductions (including Phil Brown) resulting in probable homicides. There are 4 additional murders, 2 shootings in Los Fuertes and 2 stabbing deaths. That’s 7 total. Unreported, downplayed and hushed up.  No increase in police or military as has happened in past crime waves. No actions from local or national govt. There has been lots of armed robberies often with victims threatened with guns of knives to throats. Please help get the word out to cruisers. Big companies should stop coming here now.”

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Photo credit: El Heraldo.

The United Stated State Department issued a new crime warning for the Bahamas. You can read the new warning issued on January 10, 2018 here.

The crime warning states, in part:

Exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime.

Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults Nassau Port Cruiseagainst tourists, including minors. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.

The warning refers to the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) whose 2017 Report for the Bahamas characterizes crime in that country as "critical.

The OSAC report states that the majority of reported violent crimes were against local Bahamians and mostly occurred in areas of saturated criminality not typically visited by tourists; however, New Providence (Nassau), where around 250,000 Bahamians live, has witnessed "violent crimes in locations more commonly frequented by U.S. citizen tourists. In some instances, these incidents resulted in fatalities. Criminality and violent crime has increased on Grand Bahama island, notably crimes involving the use of machetes."

"Many criminals carry firearms, machetes, or knives, and these weapons are commonly brandished . . . there were reports of firearms used in the commission of armed robberies, where the assailant assaulted the victim after the victim resisted. Many of these armed robberies were snatch-and-grabs involving purses, jewelry, cell phones, and cash. Should you be confronted by someone demanding money/valuables, you should comply with their demands and make the encounter as brief as possible. If confronted, try to remain calm, clearly display your hands and do not make any sudden moves that could be interpreted as resistance.

Armed robberies, property crimes, purse snatchings, theft, fraud, and sexual assaults remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists."

The OSAC report further documents that "in 2016, numerous incidents were reported that either involved tourists or occurred in well-known tourist locations. Crimes occurred near popular tourist areas adjacent to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas as well as the popular downtown area. Several armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas."

We have reported on over a dozen U.S. warnings about the high level of crime in the Bahamas, primarily in the capital city of Nassau. 

In 2014, we selected Nassau as the most dangerous port of call in our list of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World, and later stated that Nassau was "one gunshot away" from the cruise lines exiting that port. 

As we wrote then, we have been warning about crime in Nassau ever since we started this blog in September 2009. In October 2009, two "vicious robbers" robbed a group of 11 terrified cruise passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship by gunpoint in Nassau. In November 2009, 18 cruise passengers were robbed during excursions from Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships. 

The Nassau Guardian published an article about the new crime warning. 

In response to the warning which mentions the fish fry businesses at Arawak Cay in Nassau, Bahamian Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar criticized the crime advisory to the Tribune newspaper in Nassau, suggesting that Nassau was safe compared to major American cities like "Chicago or New York.”

This is a common although misleading argument.  The per capita murder rate in the country of the Bahamas is higher than the per capita rate in Chicago and many, many times higher than the per capita rate in New York City. In the U.S., the per capita murder rate is a little over 4 per 100,000; in the Bahamas, the rate is around 40 per 100,000

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Photo credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

The U.S. State Department has issued a critical crime warning for Nassau, Bahamas today. The warning is titled Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Nassau (Bahamas), Nassau Violent Crime.

The warning states that U.S. citizens residing in and traveling to the Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being a victim of crime. The warning states that armed robbery remains a major criminal threat facing U.S. citizens with the crime threat on New Providence listed as “critical.”

The last warning from the State Department or the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas was just last month when the State Department issued the 2015 Bahamas Crime Report which revealed that armed robbery and sexual assaults were increasing. 

The most recent warning focused on violent incidents on March 22nd and 23rd which occurred in areas heavily frequented by U.S. citizen visitors and residents. One victim was was stabbed and killed and the other man was critically wounded and robbed. 

We picked Nassau as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world last year.

In 2014, Bahamas was the subject of four critical crime warnings to U.S. citizens (one from the U.S. State Department and three from the U.S. Embassy) and one warning from Canada. With the 2 warnings this year, that’s a total of 7 warnings. I have never heard any country being the recipient of seven crime warnings in just 15 months. The last U.S. warning in 2014 mentioned that U.S. tourists have been raped and robbed at gunpoint, and there have been three reported sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet ski operators on Paradise Island.

The Nassau Guardian reports that there are 34 murders so far this year, up 35% from this time last year which was a particularly deadly period of time in the Bahamas. There were 23 murders this time last year.

The homicide rate for the Bahamas is over 30 per 100,000. In the U.S. the homicide rate is only 4.5 per 100,000. Most tourists and cruise passengers to Nassau don’t understand this.

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Photo Credit: Tribune