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Sep 12, 2018

F.I.U. Involved in Kortobacco Heist Investigation

More than eight hundred thousand Belize dollars was stolen from Kortobacco Belize Limited on Sunday in what could possibly be the biggest, well calculated and successfully executed heist in Belize’s history. Located at the Benque Free Zone, Kortobacco Belize Limited was broken into by four masked and armed men who were equipped with a blowtorch they used to gain access into the building. The burglars proceeded to where the cash was stored which suggests that it was an inside job. One of the employees has been questioned by police and two security officers of the free zone have been arrested pending the outcome of the investigation. Not much is known about Kortobacco Belize Limited other than it sells cigarettes and makes about eight hundred thousand dollars in revenues a month.  The company has been operating in the Free Zone for about four years, selling Pine Cigarettes which are produced by KT and G, a billion-dollar company based in South Korea.   News Five has learned that the owner is from Bolivia and his name is Walter Zabala. We are also told that Zabala has not been seen in the free zone for the past five months. The manager of the business is one Maria Salazar who made the official police report. The fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars were kept inside the building has raised eyebrows. The Financial Intelligence Unit has joined the investigation since there is a possibility that Kortobacco Belize may be used to launder money and smuggle tobacco which is a multimillion-dollar industry in the region.


Joseph Myvett


“Sir, there are indications that this company is a company which needs to move large amounts of U.S. dollars which is known as money laundering. Is that something that you all are looking at?”


ACP Joseph Myvett, Head, National Crimes Investigation Branch

“Yes, that is being looked at as a part of the investigation. We are following several leads as well, in relation to the investigation.”



“Is the Financial Intelligence Unit a part of this investigation?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“They will become, since it happened over the weekend, they will be onboard sometime later today.”


Al D. Sattler


“Is the Western Free Zone becoming an area of concern for you all because of these large amounts of cash which are obviously involved in that zone?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“Yes it is and for that reason too the police have been doing frequent patrols in that area.”


Al D. Sattler, C.E.O., Benque Viejo Free Zone

They made the news about a year and a half ago when one of their managers got stopped in El Salvador with five hundred thousand dollars cash and is sitting in jail in El Salvador on a money laundering charge, I think, for ten years.”


So far no one has been charged for the burglary.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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