U.S. blacklists John Zabaneh

Three Belizean businessmen, John Angel Zabaneh, 57, his nephew Dion Zabaneh, 38, and Corozal based businessman Daniel Gonzalo Moreno, 39,  have been designated by the United States Department of Treasury for their alleged association with the powerful Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) posted a press release on its web site on Tuesday, August 7, to blacklist the three men and the companies they operate, forbidding U.S. companies and nationals from doing business with them.

OFAC, under the strength of the US Kingpin Act, has frozen all their assets that are in the United States.

The U.S. Treasury press release said that the “OFAC is designating John Zabaneh for the prominent role that he and his organization play in narcotics trafficking in Central America, particularly Belize, as well as their role in the drug trafficking operations of Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel.”

The release added, “John Zabaneh’s drug trafficking activities and his organization’s ties to Colombian sources of supply and Mexican buyers make him a critical figure in the narcotics trade.”

The Reporter spoke with U.S. Embassy Public Relations Officer Eric Hayden, who said that no extradition papers will be filed for the trio.

Hayden said the Department of the Treasury’s investigation is a complicated financial and commercial process, whereas extradition is a criminal matter.

The Reporter also contacted John Zabaneh, who said, “I am shocked. The allegation is totally baseless. I have to respond to it. It is serious. But I do not want to make a statement without my attorney.”

Zabaneh’s companies are listed as Maya King Ltd, Mid-South Investment Ltd, Crown Paradise Enterprise Ltd, all based in Dangriga.

Zabaneh also owns Belize Chemicals Ltd, based in Belmopan. Daniel Moreno owns D’s Supermarket, located in Corozal.

The Sinaloa Cartel is headed by Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera, the most wanted man in Mexico and the United States.

Guzman, who escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001, has been on the run from the law ever since his laundry cart escape. He presides over a multi-billion dollars drug smuggling operation.

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