Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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Marty Offline

Dear BTIA Members,

The tourism industry of Belize has just received one of the
biggest Independence Day presents anyone could ever ask for
. . . Another member of the bandito gang that terrorized
the Cayo District for almost a year prior to their last
assault in June 2006 is cooling his heals in a Belizean

Marco Javier Molina, a Guatemalan national, was apprehended
by members of the Belize Police Department after a lengthy
and persistent investigation. Molina is suspected of being
a possible ring leader of the outlaw gang. This news could
not be breaking at a more appropriate and opportune time for
the nature based tourism industry of the Cayo District and
in turn the entire tourism industry of Belize. After being
held under siege by this lawless gang and targeted by
international travel advisories, the industry has just
pulled off a very successful BETEX and expects the upcoming
seasons' reservations to be better than ever.

Lucy Fleming, President of the Belize Tourism Industry
Association (BTIA) remarked that,

"The members of the BTIA would like to officially offer
our highest praise to the dedicated members of the Belize
Police Department and the Belize Defense Force who have and
continue to persevere under incredible financial hardships
to stick to the task at hand and literally put their lives
on the line to bring us one step closer to the eradication
of this threat to our industry.

This is clearly an example of the positive impact that can
result from open and committed cooperation between the
private industry and our law enforcement and defense

However, we just might not have been celebrating today if it
were not for the generous donations from the individual
members of the Belize Tourism Industry Association and
through our partner, the Belize Tourism Board as well as the
Protected Areas Conservation Trust

Particular gratitude must also be shown to the general
business community for their much appreciated support with
special thanks to the Spanish Lookout Mennonite Community.

"It was truly a community effort that supplied our law
enforcement officers and soldiers with the necessary
vehicles, equipment and financial assistance to mount an
assault against this serious threat to everyone's safety
and livelihood" added Lucy Fleming

We have achieved a limited victory albeit a critical one.
However, it is not the time to relax. If we are sincere in
our quest to rid our country of this criminal element, and
to bring the remaining perpetrators to justice while sending
a strong message to future delinquents, we must now
continue with stern resolve to back our law enforcement
officers and soldiers.

We must also persist in shouldering the heavy burdens of
modern civilization and not allow our efforts and financial
investments to go to naught as we restore the confidence of
safety to our international visitors. We all know what we
must do. To those of you who have already stepped up to the
plate, we say thank you. To everyone else, we sincerely
continue to appeal to you for your help.

Donations to support our Police Department and BDF and to
sustain our investigative efforts can be made by direct
deposit into the BTIA Crime Prevention Fund under account #
1119336 at your nearest Belize Bank.

On a side note, your donations have assisted with funding
the recent installations of one-way glass into newly
refurbished suspect line-up rooms in both the San Ignacio
and Benque Viejo Police Stations and they have already been
put to good use.

As the paint was drying, Marco Javier Molina was paraded
into the new line-up room at the Benque Viejo Police Station
and positively identified! These new additions will assist
greatly to protect the identity of all witnesses and work as
an effective law enforcement tool for our officers.

To our members who have worked tirelessly to support the
investigation and to our police officers and soldiers we
once again say thank you.

End . . .

Contributed by: Mike Green, Tourism Security Advisor for

Marty Offline
Mastermind of Cayo attacks in jail
Belize police are patting themselves on the back tonight following the arrest of the person they say masterminded a crime spree against visitors and residents of the Cayo district. News Five's Janelle Chanona reports.

Senior Superintendent James Magdaleno, Head, National C.I.B.
“He was the ringleader. He was the one giving instructions. He was up front during these robberies, so he was easily identified by the victims.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
This afternoon, law enforcement officials escorted forty-four year old Jeronimo Cortez Gonzalez to Belize City Magistrate’s Court to be arraigned in connection with twelve separate armed attacks in the Cayo District. According to Senior Superintendent James Magdaleno, Head of the National Crimes Investigation Branch, an anonymous call on Tuesday led Belizean and Guatemalan investigators to a home in the border village of Arenal.

James Magdaleno
“The person was picked up, he was taken into custody and was interviewed. He was shown his picture to be one of the robbers that were committing these robberies and at some point in time, he admitted yes, he was involved.”

According to police, since July 2005 there have been twelve reported armed hold ups in the Cayo district, specifically in the Mountain Pine Ridge, Caracol, and Chiquibul areas. Victims described the bandits as Hispanic men brandishing assault rifles.

The M.O. was simple: as vehicles drove to Mayan sites with tourists, the gunmen would ambush the cars, direct them to a secluded area, and then rob them of cash and valuables. But in May of this year, one of the attacks turned violent when a tourist was sexually assaulted and another shot. Tonight cops tell News Five Cortez, a resident of San Benito, Peten, claims to have lived in Belize.

James Magdaleno
“He used to be working here before. I understand that he worked at the Hershey Limited before, so hence the reason he is in and out of Belize.”

Janelle Chanona
“We know that there are several other people involved in these attacks. The investigation continues?”

James Magdaleno
“The investigation continues. Again this man was positively identified by fourteen persons between the twentieth and twenty-first.”

Janelle Chanona
“We understand this gentleman may also be wanted in Guatemala for crimes there?”

James Magdaleno
“They had committed some crimes over there, some minor crimes. They were dealt with, they went to court, and I guess they paid their fines or they are on bail so that is how it went over on the Guatemalan side.”

The last armed robbery took place on June second at the Black Rock Lodge and authorities say despite a major break in the case, police and B.D.F. patrols will continue in the area.

James Magdaleno
“And that will not stop until eternity, so it continues and I could also say to the public, to the tourists visiting that the area is safe, that they can go there now and go the different Mayan sites, the ruins, it is safe. And I must give thanks to the residents of the Cayo district, the B.T.I.A., and everybody else that assisted for the rewards that they give which led to the capture of this person.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

According to court officials, Cortez was arraigned on five counts of robbery this afternoon. The charges are being treated as indictable offences so no plea was taken. Cortez was denied bail and has been remanded to Hattieville Prison until his next court date on September twenty-eight. It is expected that additional charges will be filed against him then. We understand tonight that many of the victims were encouraged to participate in an identification parade of the suspect thanks to two one-way mirrors recently installed at the San Ignacio and Benque police stations, by the Cayo branch of the Belize Tourism Industry Association.


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