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Americans wanted in catamaran theft allegedly came to Belize without visitor’s permit

Posted: Friday, October 27, 2023. 10:31 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A trio of Americans are facing deportation from Belize after a minor shoplifting case became an Immigration offense and led authorities to a major boat theft in the U.S. and the Bahamas.

Elexa Taylor Chism, 26, a bartender of Austin, Texas; Karim Osman, 29, a bar owner; and 45-year-old attorney David Blake Pendergrast were arraigned in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court jointly with the Immigration offense of failure to produce visitor’s permit on demand to an Immigration Officer.

They pleaded guilty and were each fined $1,000 and cost of court to be paid forthwith, in default 1 year imprisonment.

A removal order was also granted for their expulsion from Belize but the case was adjourned to November 24 in order to allow the trio time to be able to get their travel documents in order through assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Belize.

According to the San Pedro Immigration Department, on Thursday, October 26, San Pedro Police informed that they had detained three Americans pending investigation for a shoplifting complaint; however, the charge was dropped against the trio, who were then handed over to the Immigration Department to investigate their legal status in Belize.

During an interview, the trio were asked to present their permit to remain in Belize legally but none of them were able to produce any documents. They claimed to have entered Belize on a private vessel named “Aris”, allegedly owned by Pendergrast and didn’t know they were supposed to check in with Immigration.

Further checks by authorities into the trio revealed that Pendergrast is wanted in the United States in connection with the theft of a $1.5 million catamaran allegedly stolen from Pier 66, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which was last seen in the Bahamas.

A source with knowledge of the situation indicates that the catamaran, named ‘Tiforu’ belongs to a Canadian national who reported it missing in September. While in the Bahamas, the vessel docked and left without paying charges.


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