(Trinidad Guardian) Desperate to escape Venezuelan pirates, two kidnapped fishermen jumped off their abductors’ boat on Monday night and took their chances in the sea. Unfortunately, only one of them managed to make it home safely.
Bruised and traumatised Keyon Alexander, 29, of La Union Road, Erin, arrived home around 3 pm yesterday, less than 24 hours after he was kidnapped. He had spent the night swimming desperately and screaming for help from passing boats.
Wet and cold, he managed to climb onto an offshore oil installation where he rested for a while before being picked up by local fishermen in a passing boat. However, Alexander’s boat captain Anthony George, 32, of Guayaguayare, remained missing up to late yesterday. Coast Guard officers continued searching the seas with the hope of finding him.
During an exclusive interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Alexander’s sister Adanna Ahey said they were happy Alexander was safe.
“The inside of his legs grate up because he had to climb up the platform. His feet bruised and bloody. His clothes dirty but thank God he is alive. He said it not nice out there. These Venezuelan men desperate,” Ahey said.
Ahey said Alexander was not fond of going to the sea after they lost their brother Edmund Charles, who died in a boat crash last year, but she said he could not find work so out of desperation he decided to fight it out at sea.
She said while the friends were fishing aboard a pirogue named Good One they were accosted by a Venezuelan gunman who ordered them into another vessel. The pirates then contacted George and Alexander’s family and demanded US$5,000 for George and $US10,000 for Alexander. Ahey said she did not know why her brother was worth more. The call was made to a nephew and the family was told the fishermen would be killed if they did not pay. The Venezuelans also placed the men’s phones in a rice bucket and sent a photo to the family as proof that they were captured. But Ahey said they were not wealthy and could not afford a US$10,000 ransom.
Keyon’s wife, Abigail Alexis, declined to comment yesterday, saying she did not have any details to share. Alexander, who has been fishing since he was 12, went to the Cap-de-Ville Police Station where he made a report to the police.
Investigations are underway but a senior police source said they were pursuing an allegation that someone from the men’s community was liaising directly with the Venezuelan pirates in the kidnapping. One of the biggest gangs of pirates operate from the Caño Manamo River in Venezuela, which is a tributary of the Orinoco River.
The police source claimed the river-based pirates were responsible for the kidnapping of several local fishermen. The gang, whose leader is well known by Interpol and the Guardia Nacional, has recruited large numbers of desperate, hungry Venezuelans who are forced into banditry because of that country’s dire socio-economic crisis.
Recent cases involving Venezuela pirates:
January 12: Kenrick Morgan, 17 and his cousin Kendell Singh, 24, were kidnapped while fishing off Gran Chemin, Moruga. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of US$40,000 which was later changed to US$20,000 and five iPhones. They were also released.
February 8: After paying a US$90,000 ransom, which included 10 cellphones, gold jewellery and several boat engines, fishermen Lynton Manohar, 35, Jason O’Brian, 38, Jagdesh Jude Jaikaran, 16, Brandon Arjoon, 28 and Ricky Rambharose, 35, from Morne Diablo, Penal, returned home after being held in captivity for more than a week.