Another Arrest Made in Roatan

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Justice ScaleJust yesterday, our cruise ship lawyers reported on the arrest of Guzman Ramirez, the 20-year-old suspected gunman accused of fatally shooting a Norwegian Cruise Line crew member. The victim, Gavan Yaycob, 27, was working aboard the Norwegian Pearl when the vessel docked in the popular port of Roatan, Honduras. As many crew members do when they have free time, Yaycob disembarked in the city and only made it a few feet away from the ship when he was mugged over his cell phone. Ramirez, the third suspect to be arrested in connection to the crime, allegedly shot and killed Yaycob on April 6, but was taken into custody shortly thereafter.

In the wake of such a terrible tragedy, at least the victim’s loved ones can have some semblance of justice following the arrest. It actually comes as a bit of a shock to the attorneys at our firm that Roatan authorities were able to perform such a fast investigation and apprehend the gunman. Many times, cruise ship crew members and passengers who are the victims of a crime at a port of call never obtain the justice they deserve. Because these foreign countries don’t have as strict of a legal system as the U.S., many assailants are able to get away with their crimes – especially when the victims are foreigners themselves.

Yet, not only was an arrest made in connection with the NCL crew member’s fatal shooting, but now, we’ve learned that another alleged assailant was apprehended in Roatan for is reported involvement in a robbery crime.

According to the Roatan news source Teledifusora Insular, Cory Lee Beckner, 20, was arrested in connection to the gunpoint robbery of several cruise passengers. Beckner, whose father owns Palm Beach in Roatan, has been accused of being the “ringleader” of a gang that has been preying on tourists who call on the island. Armed with guns and other weapons, the gang members have threatened the lives of cruise travelers and other tourists and have stolen a plethora of their personal belongings, including cash, cell phones, cameras, and clothing.

We’ve yet to learn whether Beckner was, in actuality, involved in the robbery crime spree, but given the fact that two other suspects were arrested, then released in the investigation of the NCL crew member shooting, we can’t rule out the possibility that other assailants are still at large.

NCL pulled out of Roatan this week in response to the shooting, but given the escalating number of tourist crimes in the island nation, shouldn’t all cruise lines follow suit?

According to the US Department of State’s report, titled “Honduras Travel Warning,”Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world.” This means that every time a cruise ship calls on a port in Honduras, including the very popular port of Roatan, passengers and crew members’ lives are placed in danger. The US State Department’s travel warning is a vital piece of data for those considering a visit to Roatan, but cruise lines don’t seem to be adhering to the department’s recommendations.

Unfortunately, both cruise lines and the ports they call on focus mostly on revenue. If a cruise line pulls out of a specific port, then both the line and the port loses revenue. So, in order to avoid a financial loss, cruise lines take their chances and call on dangerous ports, despite the blatant risk for travelers.

As we’ve seen time and time again, the cruise industry doesn’t seem to take too serious of a stance on safety. It’s only until after a serious accident or crime occurs that cruise lines will get the ball rolling and improve their safety features and/or policies. But how many more people need to suffer before the industry starts taking preventative measures instead of damage control?

With new and innovative safety products on the market, it’s a shame cruise lines don’t jump at the chance to provide a safe environment for their guests and their workers. Preventing accidents and crimes is never a 100 percent guarantee, but there are several options cruise lines are leaving on the table that could potentially reduce the accident and crime rate drastically, such as installing infrared cameras to detect overboard accidents, hiring trained lifeguards, offering more extensive emergency and evacuation training for crew members, taking better steps to ensure passenger and crew safety in ports of call, and performing better and more accurate background checks on crew members. We can only hope that one day, cruise lines will get the message loud and clear that something needs to change in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations in the first place.