ABC7 Chicago news producer Anne Swaney was found murdered in Belize on Jan. 15th 2016.

By NAN Contributor

News Americas, BELMOPAN, Belize, Fri. Jan. 22, 2016: As Belize police and U.S. FBI agents continue to investigate the murder of American journalist Ann Swaney a week after she was found strangled to death, latest crime stats show that there has been a rash of murders on the island already this year.

Belize Channel 7 news reports show that there have been 18 murders in the first 16 days of the year already even as the Belize tourism officials noted a drop in crime across the country as of last year.

Swaney’s murder is of course one of the 18. Her body was found floating in the Mopan River in San Jose Succotz on Friday morning. An autopsy has revealed that she was strangled and struck to the head and neck with a blunt object. The Chicago native had been on a 7-day vacation at the Nabitunich Stone Cottages Resort in San Jose Succotz, Cayo District when she was reported missing. She was found dead by Belize police a day later.

The rash of murders this year come as Belize’s police commissioner reported a drop in crime in 2015. Last year, Belize reported 119 murders, four less than 2014’s 123. It also brought down Belize’s murder rate to 32, which is lower than Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

According to the Belize Tourist Board, Americans continue to be the island’s largest market for visitors, making up 63.1 percent of the overall arrivals.

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