American Couple Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama


A pair of armed and dangerous assailants brutally attacked an American couple last night aboard their sailboat anchored in the “South Anchorage” of the Bocas Marina, next to Isla Colon in the province of Bocas del Toro in the Republic of Panama. The attack started after midnight last night, during early morning hours today, Sunday, 8 July 2012. The assailants pulled up next to the couple’s sailboat at 1:00 am early this morning in a typical Panamanian wooden cayuco. The two assailants boarded the sailboat, held the couple at gunpoint, and tied them up. They ransacked the boat and stole everything of value, including cameras, electronics, a computer, cash, and jewelry. The attack lasted at least two hours, during which time the victims were assaulted and brutalized. The victims were finally able to put out a call for help on the radio at 3:30 am in the morning, after the assailants had left.

A Description Of The Assailants: The two men are described as skinny, black men, medium height, and short hair. They spoke both English and Spanish. During the assault one of them called the other by the name “Emilio.” The victims say the men had a “Jamaican accent” but it’s unlikely they were actually from Jamaica. It’s much more likely the attackers are from the Afro-Panamanian community in the area of Bocas del Toro. Many of the members of the “Afro-Antillean” community are West Indian immigrants from Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique and Jamaica, brought to Panama in order to build the Panama Canal in the early 1900’s. There are several concentrated communities of Panamanians who are members of this “Afro-Antillean” community, specifically on Isla Bastimentos and on other islands in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago.

Dinghy Recovered: The assailants took the sailboat’s dinghy when they left. After dawn this morning someone spotted a dinghy floating free off of the coast of Isla Carenero. Someone swam out and recovered the dinghy. It’s possible (assumption on my part) the assailants took the dinghy in an attempt to keep the victims from being able to leave their boat, and they simply abandoned it near Isla Carenero as they made their escape in their own cayuco.

Police Report Filed: The victims have filed a complaint with the National Police in Bocas del Toro. The woman was taken to the hospital.

A Possible Earlier, Related Attempt? There is a report that some would be assailants – possibly these same two men – tried to board another sailboat at 10:30 pm on Saturday 7 July 2012. Reportedly, these would-be victims were able to “repel” that boarding attempt, and nothing else happened. I suspect the DIJ detectives will be investigating and comparing the details to determine or confirm if the two events are related. It seems like too much of a coincidence to think they might not be related in some way.

Editor’s Comment: Obviously this is a very serious attack. I’ve passed this information along to my contacts in the highest levels of the Panamanian government, as well as the Panamanian news media. I’m sure the National Police and the Department of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) on Isla Colon will be doing their jobs to investigate this case, identify and find the culprits, and to bring them to justice. It’s bad that this happened. From what I understand this couple had only been in Panama for a couple of weeks, and the cruiser community is burning up the networks discussing this situation. The Panamanian government, law enforcement, security, and judicial authorities are aware of the situation, and they know that the best thing they can do now is to find and punish the culprits as quickly as possible. If you have any information you think might be related to this investigation or of value, you can report it to the National Police, the DIJ, the FBI, or if you would like a confidentiality firebreak – send it to me. And, I’m sure the community of English speaking expatriates in Bocas del Toro will band together to help and support the victims. For now, let’s focus on catching the bad guys. Please spread the word.

Courtesy of Don Winner and


Author: Blue Water Sailing