MARIGOT–Vice-Prosecutor Michaël Ohayon disclosed at a press conference Friday that five suspects were taken into custody on May 23 as part of an intense and on-going investigation into a spate of what he described as “particularly violent” armed robberies that have been taking place on the French side between April 26 and May 18.
Seven armed robberies occurred during this period, usually in the evenings or late at night, committed by a trio of robbers in a Hyundai Idis car circulating around the French side. Their victims tended to be elderly or fragile persons, single women, and tourists.
Not only were victims robbed of their cash and valuables, they were violently assaulted, beaten about the face with the butt of a firearm and in one instance a victim was slashed on the shoulders by a machete during a robbery in Baie Nettle.
An operation launched by the Gendarmerie on May 23 on Sandy Ground’s Lady Fish Road permitted three suspects to be arrested at 6:00am and a fourth arrested at midday. It was not immediately clear when the fifth suspect was arrested. The Hyundai car was found and confiscated at one of the suspect’s homes where personal effects of the victims were also found.
Of five suspects taken into custody, three admitted being directly involved in the armed robberies. The three include a 21-year-old St. Martiner who was previously sentenced to six months prison on April 16, 2015, for armed robbery and receipt of stolen goods; an individual (19) from the Dominican Republic who had been living in St. Martin for the past six years, and another St. Martiner, a minor (17) from Sandy Ground who admitted taking part in three robberies.
All three were transferred to Guadeloupe. The oldest at 21, because of the violent nature of the robberies and injuries inflicted on victims faces up to 10 years in prison. The remaining two suspects were released; however, one will be summoned back for interrogation. It was also discovered that the mother of the suspect from the Dominican Republic had in her possession a Rolex watch and a Samsung cell phone, stolen by her son from the victims.
Prosecutor Ohayon downplayed concerns by the media that these latest events might signal a worrying explosion of crime and violence.
“No, the 2018 statistics do not suggest that at all,” he said. “Since the beginning of the year we have had 10 robberies and the trend has been consistently going down. In 2014 there were 140 armed robberies, in 2015, 120, in 2016, 80 and in 2017, 63.”
He praised the diligent work of the Gendarmerie in breaking up this gang of robbers as the investigation continues to find out if more persons were involved.