Buccaneers are running amok in the Caribbean and Latin America, according to a disturbing new reportWednesday that found a staggering surge in pirate attacks last year.
Seventy-one pirate attacks were recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017 — a 163 percent increase from the year before, according to the nonprofit group Oceans Beyond Piracy, which found that 59 percent of the incidents involved robberies on yachts.
“Pirate activity in 2017 clearly demonstrates that pirate groups retain their ability to organize and implement attacks against ships transiting the region,” said the report’s lead author, Maisie Pigeon.
Pirates have hit waters off the coast of Suriname hard.
In April, at least a dozen fishermen from Guyana went missing or were feared dead following a pirate attack in the area.
Guyana President David Granger called the attack a “massacre.”
And a fishing boat captain was shot dead after his ship was attacked in May. The rest of his crew survived.
The buccaneers also attacked anchorages in Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Colombia and St. Lucia.
OBP estimated that pirates carted off nearly $1 million in stolen goods in attacks in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, in East Africa, four vessels were hijacked in 54 total incidents in 2017, with a spike in crimes recorded around the Horn of Africa.
But the cost of piracy in the region was $1.4 billion in 2017 — down from $1.7 billion in 2016 and $7 billion in 2010, during the peak of attacks by Somali gangs.
“There are now a wide range of threats to shipping near the Horn of Africa that have been complicated by the conflict and instability in Yemen,” said Phil Belcher, marine director with association INTERTANKO, which represents the majority of the world’s tanker fleet.
West Africa saw a slight increase in pirate attacks — 97 in 2017 compared to 95 the year before.
But there were 21 kidnap-for-ransom incidents in 2017, three more than 2016. One hundred crew members were taken hostage and two were killed.
“Kidnap-for-ransom continues to plague the region, which is a trend that has unfortunately continued from 2016,” Pigeon said.
Credit: NY Post