By Tommy Vawter
In the dark and deadly underworld of narco-trafficking down here in Central America, where ruthless people of limited education and meager beginnings are transformed almost overnight into multi-millionaires, to the point that they no longer count the cash money that is flowing in. They have to weigh it because counting it all takes too long.
It seems almost inevitable that sooner or later, some of these modern day pirates of this multi-billion dollar industry are going to burry some of their ill-gotten gains in secret locations.
I am sure that the reasons for hiding some of their wealth varies from one drug lord to another. Some hide their treasure for old age retirement, some to us as an emergency escape in case they are being hunted by new drug lords wanting to take over precious territory and drug transportation routes, and some to save in case the authorities are moving in on them and they need to buy their way out of jail or prison.
Y’all remember about 5 months ago we were talking about the crew of the Aqua Quest, and their miss-adventure down in Honduras and how the Capitan and her crew ended up spending some 52 days in the squealer of a sorry excuse of a prison located in the department of Gracias a Dios (Thank God), in La Mosquitia region of northern Honduras on trumped up weapons smuggling charges.
To his credit, Capt Mayne did not cave to the pressure to pay extortion money to some local officials, but they paid a heavy price in term of the loss of their freedom, and the constant worry of friends and family back home.
The six Americans were finally released from prison on the 26th of June, and then headed home to Tarpon Springs, Florida. On the July 2nd, the Aqua Quest and her crew sailed into their home port to a hero’s welcome.
Well, it is often said that us Treasure Hunters are a different breed, and that many are cut from the same cloth as other Explorers and Adventurers that have gone before us. This is defiantly the case for Capt Mayne and his crew. As I am writing this, Capt Mayne is back in Honduras meeting with local officials in several municipalities, signing exclusive 5 year agreements to continue with his salvage operation of ancient Mahogany logs in the Mosquitia region of northern Honduras.
While Bob and his crew have made many friends in Honduras as a result of their efforts to assist the native Mosquitia Indians with some profit sharing from the Mahogany Log project and the promise of other Humanitarian aid. I would venture to say that in the back of his mind he must be thinking that he has also made a few enemies during their ordeal earlier this year.
Northern Honduras is one of the most stunningly beautiful places that I have had the pleasure to visit, and I fully understand the desire to return. On the 12th of August TreasureWorks temporarily pulled the plug on our plans to set up an operation in northern Honduras, in part because of security concerns. In the meantime, we have moved down to Panama, but the desire to return to Honduras burns bright.
Honduras is also one of the most dangerous places on the earth, and the UN has rated Honduras as the most deadly country in the world for the last four years with an annual murder rate of 90.4 per 100,000 residents. In part due to narco-traffickers who often operate with the support of some corrupt government officials, but mostly due to gang related violence exported from Los Angeles, California prisons and brought on by mass poverty.
Capt. Mayne has not yet announced when he and his crew will be returning to Honduras.
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BELIEZE - A group of tourists visiting the archaeological site of El Caracol, in the border area between Guatemala and Belize were able to document in this video, an armed incident which killed a park ranger. The attack, apparently perpetrated by illegal traffickers of a plant named Xate (Shatay), with whom the park rangers maintain a constant battle.
The video was captured by tourists and published in a Belizean media, revealing that at the time of the shooting the group of visitors were at the top of the complex in the center of the ruins, accompanied by local guide who immediately asked them to take shelter between the walls.
The body of Danny Conorquie, a guard at the site, was located on the side of one of the trails in the main square of the park and was immediately guarded by fellow agents according conversations evidenced in amateur video. Officials blame trafficking groups of Xate for retaliation against the work of the guards to prevent looting of the listed plant.
As explained by the Tourist Guides, Park ranger recently stumbled on a group of traffickers smuggling Xate in the area and days before the event. The dead guard had managed to seize some horses out of the archaeological site and it is believed that the group of traffickers returned to take revenge.
The archaeological site El Caracol is located 40 kilometers south of Xunantunich and the town of San Ignacio Cayo. The city, which had its heyday in the classic period, was probably the most important political center of the Maya in the present territory of Belize.
The demand for the plant Xate has increased internationally in the last decade in the forested area of Petén and Belize border where more is this plant that has different uses, mainly ornamental. Since the country has regulated the trade of the plant Xate, by the National Council of Protected Areas (Conap), groups of illegal traffickers have proliferated.
Courtesy LIBRE.COM / Guatemala
Experts identified a shipwreck uncovered last month in the Arctic as the HMS Erebus, the ship British Rear Adm. Sir John Franklin was likely sailing on when it vanished along with another vessel 170 years ago, Canada's prime minister announced Wednesday.
Experts believed the shipwreck was either the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, both of which sailed under the command of Franklin on an unsuccessful search for the Northwest Passage.
Stephen Harper said in Parliament that experts have identified the wreck as the HMS Erebus, which Franklin was believed to have been aboard and perhaps died on.
Harper's office said confirmation was made by underwater archeologists, following a meticulous review of data and artifacts observed from the Arctic Ocean's seabed and using high-resolution photography, high-definition video and multi-beam sonar measurements.
Canada announced in 2008 that it would look for the ships, and Harper's government has poured millions into the venture, with the prime minister himself taking part in the search. It's all part of Harper's plan to boast Canadian nationalism and a sense of ownership of the north. Harper's government made the project a top priority as it looked to assert Canada's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, where melting Arctic ice in recent years has unlocked the very shipping route Franklin was after.
A hoard of 22,000 Roman coins has been unearthed on land near Seaton in East Devon.
The “Seaton Down Hoard” of copper-alloy Roman coins is one of the largest and best preserved 4th Century collections to have ever been found in Britain.
The hoard was declared Treasure at a Devon Coroner’s Inquest on 12th September 2014 which means it will be eligible for acquisition by a museum after valuation by the Treasure Valuation Committee, a group of independent experts who advise the Secretary of State. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, which already houses a large collection of local Romano-British objects, has launched a fund-raising campaign.
The discovery was made in November 2013 by East Devon builder and metal detector enthusiast Laurence Egerton who was operating under license on private land near the previously excavated site of a Roman villa at Honey ditches in East Devon.
NOAA today released a final rule and environmental impact statement expanding the boundaries of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles. The new boundaries now include the waters of Lake Huron adjacent to Michigan’s Alcona, Alpena and Presque Isle counties to the Canadian border.
The expansion is based on several years of research by NOAA and its many scientific partners, and now protects an additional 100 known and suspected historic shipwreck sites.
This law is pending only a formality regulatory which is scheduled for January next year, giving way to tender to explore and then extract what's under the sea, said in an interview with Efe Colombian Culture Minister Mariana Garces. "Colombia has approximately 1,300 shipwrecks. Of those, according to historians, between five and seven can be galleons economic interest," Garces said.
The controversial law provides that the company that wins the bid to extract the wealth of the galleons can keep up to 50% of the objects of trade exchange value considered repeated: gold and silver bullion, coins, precious stones not intervened by man and industrial cargoes. Instead, all parts that do not meet this criterion will be considered repeat Colombian heritage and, therefore, property of the nation. 's greatest treasures seems to be the galleon San José, a flagship of the Spanish Navy ship sunk by gunfire in 1708 by English pirates off the coast of Cartagena de Indias with great wealth in their cellars. "Some say there are 6,000 million, others say there are 3,000 others say that San Jose has been looted, "said the minister, who also opened the possibility that the galleon is not in the place where it is believed.
And in 2007 the Supreme Court of Colombia ruled that U.S. treasure hunting company Sea Search Armada has rights to 50% of the treasure of San Jose if you are in the coordinates that the company claimed. "We're hoping to finish that ultimately judicial decisions (on San Jose), we are confident will be favorable to us, to establish the mechanism of exploration, "said the minister about this process that is still in court. Submerged Heritage Act, approved this year, also provides that the priority for extracting treasures submerged the Colombian State, but the minister acknowledged that the country "has technological developments in the field." Responsible for the public company would do Dimar (General Maritime) Garces acknowledged that they have not yet begun to work on developing a technology that permits it. The Minister also referred to the rest of sunken ships, nearly 1,300 that have no economic interest but scientific and heritage. "We would have underwater explorations for our history, not only with the only commercial mood. That's not our interest, not our priority," he said Garces.
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Greg Brooks of Sub Sea Research poses alongside the salvage ship Sea Hunter in Boston Harbor. Brooks will use the Sea Hunter to salvage the cargo of 71 tons of platinum now worth about $3 billion from the British merchant ship Port Nicholson which was sunk by a German U-boat in 1942.
By Doug Fraser
Treasure hunter Greg Brooks has burned through at least $8 million of investor money in his hunt for a supposed fortune in platinum, gold and jewels on a sunken World War II freighter 50 miles northeast of Provincetown.
But now he is considering ending his hunt and selling off expedition assets, including the main salvage vessel.
According to his own records and status reports filed with the court, Brooks spent less than 80 days at sea in his first five years attempting to salvage treasure from the S.S. Port Nicholson, which sank after being torpedoed by a German submarine. He gained wide publicity but now appears to be quietly giving up, despite insisting there are billions on board the ship, according to documents filed in a court case contesting ownership of the freighter's contents.
Three cannon have already been raised from the site along with 1,000 artefacts
The Alderney Maritime Trust and staff from Bournemouth University dove the site in October, the first time work had been carried out since 2008.
During the dive three cannon and "substantial ship timbers" were found and photographed.
Mike Harrison, coordinator trustee, said more work on the site was going to go ahead next summer.
He said: "Things move very slowly with marine archaeology, the work we've done in the last few years... has been conserving objects."
The unnamed ship sunk in November 1592 and was discovered by local fishermen Bertie Costeril and Fred Shaw in 1977.
The trust was established in 1994 and in 2004 the Duke of York became the group's patron.
Three cannon were among about 1,000 artefacts raised from the site in 2008 and replicas of the cannon were fired as part of tests about the technology of the time.
Two of those cannon have returned to Alderney after conservation work and the third is due to come to the island in the spring.
Other finds from the ship include what could be a Viking navigational aid called a sunstone.
The dive in October started clearing debris left by previous dives and carried out preparation work for a further geophysical survey to be carried out by Bournemouth University in the summer.
Mr Harrison said this survey was dependent on securing the necessary funding.
He said: "It's very, very expensive... we've got a lot of fundraising to do, it's tens of thousands of pounds, conserving a cannon is £10,000 for example."
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Government Prohibits diving on the Samabaj site
Yesterday we were informed that the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and Sports issued an order that prohibits SCUBA Diving on the Samabaj archaeological site, on Lake Atitlan, Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, because the government does not yet have an adequate management plan of the place.
After that resolution was issued entities involved in the management of the Lake conducted a workshop for the creation of this plan.
Adriana Segura, the Directorate General of Cultural and Natural Heritage, said that the aim is to identify problems affecting the archaeological site and take into account the local Indian authorities.
Indigenous mayors of Santiago Atitlán expressed discomfort because they have not been taken into account, noting that they have knowledge and documents containing information about this place, including the ground that the name is Pa'Jaibal '.
They asked that the management plan will be suitable and especially the revenue generated in any way directly benefit the conservation of the site and the local population.
The ruins were first discovered by a local diver back in 1996, and archaeologists showed little interest in the site until just recently.
Once archaeologists realized the size and scope of the submerged Mayan ruins they decided to keep the location a secret in order to prevent any looting of the site.
In July of this year, a team from TreasureWorks, led by explorer and treasure hunter Tommy Vawter successfully located the lost Mayan City of Samabaj and spent several days diving on and exploring the site.
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