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Aug 7, 2012

US Treasury names John Zabaneh a drug kingpin

A prominent figure from the south, his nephew and an associate in Corozal are being sought by the United States government. John Angel Zabaneh, Dion Christopher Zabaneh, and Daniel Gonzalo Moreno have all been identified as Sinaloa Cartel Operatives in Belize. The Sinaloa Cartel is considered by the United States Intelligence Community to be the most powerful drug organization in the world and the L.A. Times has referred to it as Mexico’s most powerful organized crime group. Because of this association, the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control has used the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to seize assets that the men may have in the United States. It’s a serious accusation that could also impact the agriculture industry as John Zabaneh controls Mayan King Limited, which produces a lion’s share of bananas. News Five spoke to Prime Minister Dean Barrow about the effects of the US designation and what roll it will play in the possible arrests of the men.


Jose Sanchez

“The US Embassy sent out a release regarding the family business name John Zabaneh, Dion Zabaneh, and other associates that they are seeking. This must have come to your doorstep. Do you have any comment on this situation? Is the government going to assist the US in retrieving these men?


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“No, there’s been no request for that. I was officially informed by the ambassador that this was happening but as it was explained to me and as I saw in looking at the sort of public information notice, there is no arrest warrant issue for these people, there is no request for extradition. It’s not at that level or at that stage at all, at all. What this is, is a designation by US Treasury under a US law that allows the treasury to say certain persons are designated as associates of cartels, associates of drug traffickers and the consequence of that designation or one of the consequences is that the person’s assets are frozen in the States and that US Nationals anywhere are prevented from doing business with them. That is the extent of this development. Whether there is more to come, I can’t say. But certainly, as of now there is nothing that the United States is asking of Belize government so that there is nothing we officially need to do.”


Jose Sanchez

“The businesses that carry that family name such as Maya King; there are many farms, it must have an economic impact on the country.”


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“These are principally banana farms and as far as I know, their banana output goes primarily to the United Kingdom. But you make a valid point. I am sure that while it is US Nationals that are prevented from doing business with Maya King and other of the Zabaneh enterprises, somehow in terms of payment, sooner or later you end up with the United States being at least some sort of a transit point I would imagine for the remittance of funds. I don’t know the details and so I won’t try to get any more into it except to say that it may well be that this designation turns out to have a chilling economic effect indeed on the Mayan King banana undertaking and I believe that Mayan King banana farm is a significant producer of the national banana output, but we will just have to see how it plays out.”


Jose Sanchez

“Should the US then decide that they want these gentlemen, John and Dion, they could put some pressure upon the government, or they need no; they may simply find the legal means to say we want them. What would be government’s position should they say, we have evidence?


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Well, we have an extradition treaty with the United States and everything—if the United States should think that it has the evidence that justifies making and issuing an arrest warrant charging these people in the US and making a request of the Belize authorities for extradition, there’s a well worn protocol, there’s a well worn legal regime that would need to be followed and that’s what would happen.”


In addition to Mayan King, Zabaneh also owns Mid-South Investments Limited, Crown Paradise Enterprises, Belize Chemicals and D’s Supermarket Company, all of which are affected by the US designation. According to the release sent from the U.S. Embassy DEA Chief of Financial Operations John Arvanitis is quoted to saying “DEA and its partners continue our sustained attack on brutal criminal regimes such as the Sinaloa Cartel and its leadership and those who help facilitate their drug and money networks.  The OFAC Designation of the Zabaneh organization is necessary to dismantle and further disrupt the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel in other parts of the world.” Unquote

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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39 Responses for “US Treasury names John Zabaneh a drug kingpin”

  1. Storm says:

    A pretty mild reaction to having acquaintances named as members of a murderous cartel. Of course, Hon.Barrow’s dignity is not ruffled by putting murderous gangsters on the government payroll, either.

    Personally I hope the USA will go after ALL drug traffickers and money launderers in the Jewel — the US law has a long, long arm, and few people escape it once it goes after them. GOB is simply incapable of cleaning up the Jewel and jailing its worst criminals, so we better pray for outside help like this.

  2. Uncle Benji says:

    Belizeans lets tell our government that we support the Zabanehs. The USA biggest problem is that they have declared themselves master of this universe. Thus they can consume the drugs, but others must pay for their nasty addiction.

    Support the Zabanehs! Screw the USA!

  3. Benjiisanidiot says:

    Unckle Benji, you Sir, are an @$$.

    The existence of a major Cartel in Belize is a sure sign of corruption in the backbone of the country, and you Sir want to support that? C’mon now.

  4. Busha says:

    @Uncle Benji, Sir, the existence of a criminal organization like this in Belize suggests that the government is more corrupt that we that it was Sir, so with that in mind, do you still support this? You must really dislike the country Sir, Or even better, are you a part of the organization, and the corruption, Sir?

  5. Oh please! says:

    Jose Sanchez – “Should the US then decide that they want these gentlemen, …” Gentlemen! He serious? Gentlemen? You see how it goes when the face of criminals deviates from the status quo! Well as far as the US and many others are concerned, there is nothing gentle about these criminals that are involved with … well as the news story puts it – “The Sinaloa Cartel is considered by the United States Intelligence Community to be the most powerful drug organization in the world and the L.A. Times has referred to it as Mexico’s most powerful organized crime group.”

  6. King Midas says:

    It is painful to read to read the posted comments of USA loving Belizeans. I can only surmise that these are onfused souls. For these poor …….., whatever the good ole USA says is true.

    USA lesson #01: The laws of supply and demand has kept the drug trade alive. Colombia and Mexico supplies because the USA demands. The world’s most “wasted away” (aka drug use) is the USA.

    The Zabanehs may or may not be drug dealers; but until the USA provides hard core evidence, time, date and places, beyond any reasonable doubts, it is our patriotic duty to support all Belizeans against unfounded USA accusations.

    Of course, USA loving stooges may find this very hard to do.

  7. News to Me says:

    First i ever hear bout this

  8. Al says:

    Oh, not Uncle Benji again, you are so full of stinking hot air. Do you understand what drugs do to people, not to mention ruin a country. Do you understand how deadly the Sinaloa cartel is. Why would you want to support anyone who is a part of destroying the lives of people and the safety and solice of our beautiful country. I am not sure if you are just stupid, planted as an antagonist to write oposition views, I know one thing for sure you are a part of the problem that is destroying our country.

  9. indy says:

    I don’t support criminals. If they committed something wrong they should pay for it. We don’t need rotten eggs in Belize. Certainly I want to see evidence, concrete evidence. All those possession should be confiscated, it was earned with illegal money.

  10. alley cat says:

    Could this be real trouble for Zabaneh? Not from the US but from the other cartels. The cartel wars is one of attrition where affiliates, friends, partners get murdered by the other side. The Zetas could very well target these guys now because of this. In Mexico disclosing the names of who is working for which side is usually a death warrant. This treat was successfully used by group Anonymous to free some of their bloggers that were kidnapped by the cartels.

  11. From Cayo says:

    I believe that he and his associates should be sent to jail…liquidate his assets and pay our national depth. Because of this man many people have died in the hands of this ferocious cartel. Thank God our prayers have been heard and hopefully they arrest the rest of his family who are also involved and other families involved.

  12. Belizean says:

    I sort of agree with Benji. And lets look at it from another angle…What if these guys didnt do this? They employ so many people. Big industries are run by these guys. Serious exports are made. Lets not stop these guys. The economy stays alive through these guys. Without them were nothing!!!

  13. Belizean Pride says:

    really this isn’t a surprise to many people to hear or read this it’s been s speculation long time but nobody wanted to stand up here in Belize and be bold to say such thing. anyways lets see what is the aftermath of this commotion. hope the pm is getting the idea that people here in Belize and abroad is watching our jewel so corruption hidden might come to light also in the G.O.B if any.

  14. goodgirl says:

    Why, don’t the US take care of their internal business first, let them clean their home first. For instance when high caliber guns where distributed to the same cartels that they are now after. Was any high ranging official of the US Charged.No, up to date nothing has come out of it. So, with what moral do you intervene and post things like from other countries.

  15. IloveuBelize says:

    For years and years, even while growing up as a child, I have heard the name “Zabaneh” involved in the drugs trade. Why cann’t something be done about those “Zabaneh” involved in this drug business. And here we are today with this explosive news. SO, whats next????

  16. GrigaMan says:

    It may be time to investigate the possibility of legalizing and taxing all drugs. The tax should be substantial enough to cover drug awareness/education and treatment/recovery. First of all, let me say that I am not a drug user, and never will be; I know how drugs can ravage the human body and mind, so I choose not to do them. Even though chewing or smoking tobacco is legal, I choose not to partake, because I am aware of the dangerous side effects. It is all about personal responsibility. Legalizing and taxing drugs would make drug cartels irrelevant, and that would eliminate the violence, corruption and the trillions of dollars spent on drug interdiction and incarceration of drug dealers and users. If someone has money and wants to use drugs, it is almost impossible to stop them from achieving their objective. The US so-called “War on Drugs” is a sick joke designed to transfer wealth from the tax-paying public to the legal and law-enforcement communities and the military industrial complex. Not only would we save untold billions annually if drugs were legalized, but the taxes would generate billions for drug awareness and treatment. Legalization is the not-so-obvious solution, but the US will NEVER agree to it, because they need the sham of the “War on Drugs” to keep stealing money from the tax paying public. I guess the US forgot the lesson of the “Prohibition”, when alcohol was outlawed; those who wanted to drink found a way to buy their drinks from the boot-leggers who defied the government and created a whole industry dedicated to the production and distribution of moon-shine. We never seem to learn our lessons from the past.

  17. dor says:

    right on uncle benji , i support mr john zabaneh, the u.s obviously don’t have any much evidence on their accusation or they would have reacted far worst, from them putting out such statement labeling him as a kingpin without any attempt on extraditing him, his nephew or the other man we know it’s BULL!!!!!!!!!!! the u.s because of being a powerful country like to push their nose in other country business especially preying on little country that depend on them and have to be tolerant of their untruding behavior. mr. johnny is a very hard working man who spends most of his time working at his farms and running his businesss which is ligit and beneficial to this country. him and the rest of zabanehs are respossible for many development in this country and for many people having jobs and feeding their families, and putting their kids through school, i’m not saying he’s perfect but before condeming, a man and making judgments base on allegations and not seeing the good he does for this country is being a typical belizean crab who takes pleasure in pulling down their own kind.and to STORM before calling someone murderous gangsters who does so much to help our economy, ask america to launch more investigation on their own american murdering outlaws living in our country and extrodite those fu—-ers back where they come from then, they will be doing belizeans a favor!!!!!!

  18. Storm says:

    I want to be clear, I HATE all drug dealers,no matter what country they come from. If I were King, they would ALL hang if convicted. Drugs destroy lives like weapons of mass destruction, and turn God’s creatures into devils.

    I think it’s insane to support a drug trafficker or any other criminal simply because he exited the womb in Belize. Life is a war between good and evil, not between Belizean and everyone else..

  19. Thug Life says:

    Such a model citizen. We should all be proud of this wonderful Belizean (sarcastically, of course).

  20. dor says:

    yeah sure! you crabs “who get vex da them i the talk to”….. would like to down play his many achievments/ establishments and blame it on drugs dealling, but guesss what! a whole lot of drug dealers deh all over belize and they still poor bruk and hungry, most people who are being heavy critics haven’t done not even quarter of a quarter of the things he has done for his country. oh sure many of you has been speculating for years this simply means instead of you crabs get up and work and try to accomplish something that can benefit your country and yourselves uno the watch next people wealth and wish bad and jealous, do you ever consider what he has he works hard to get. i am not puttin my head on the block for anyone now, but i don’t hate people base on what they have. i been hearing poeple making a big deal about this family instead of making efforts to accomplish something to benefit your country. until we know for sure unu shut uno traps and stop sound hateful and jealous.

  21. Belizean says:

    i am pretty sure that if the US wants it would be able to track our ip address and locate us however i feel strongly that no evidence has been provided for us to call this business man a criminal. In this country we are innocent until we are proven otherwise. how about getting some more work done in the USA to reduce the level of addiction and thus demand that they have for the drugs. I hope the best for these Belizeans.. by the way drugs is the only thing keeping our economy alive.

  22. Storm says:

    Peddling drugs is not hard work. But it does destroy lives. Drug profits come from the misery of other people, pure and simple. Defend that if you want, but I don’t share your morality or your adoration of wealth no matter how it was accumulated.

    The love of money is the root of all evil.

  23. La Jefa says:

    Is this about all the Zabaneh’s? or just the one’s mentioned above?

  24. x says:

    Crap, does that mean as an American I can’t stop by and have a beer at mayan king any more

  25. Stephen says:

    If they are working for drugs people there is two thing that need to be done. Yes confiscate their money but hand it over to the Belize government so it can be use for education. On the other hand America need to start clean out their country as they are the ones who have the demands for drugs. Most of the people who are behind drugs are American as they have the market for it. It is as they say only the little people go to jail, now it is time to buckle up and start be an example for the world since you America are the ones pointing fingers. I am glad that we all try to stop this drug problem but America know that freezing those industries asset will cripple Belize. Take it but give it to the government of Belize so that we can even try to take those asset here in Belize and manage it on behalf of the Government of Belize. By the end of the week a lot of people will be out of work as they will no longer can afford to pay their staff, hope that our government get control of those industries and keep those people employed.

  26. chipsy says:

    You all are stupid! You know how much people are being affected with what USA are guessing because no proof have been shown. NO MORE JOBS FOR DE POOR!! Wake up BELIZE

  27. Uncle Benji says:

    The illegal drug market in the United States is one of the most profitable in the world. As such, it attracts the most ruthless, sophisticated, and aggressive drug traffickers. Drug law enforcement agencies face an enormous challenge in protecting the country’s borders.
    Cocaine trafficking and abuse continue to threaten the health and safety of American citizens. According to drug abuse indicators, Americans have a severe drug dependency that if remained uncheck, could seriously destabilize the United States economy over the coming decade.
    Data pulled from the U.S. D.E.A. website

    Hey, Yankee lovers, the above statement reads like an American problem. Now let’s apply some Uncle Benji Albert Street econosense to this problem:
    The Zabanehs may or may not be drug dealers. They have successfully pumped their drug profits into reputable Belizean businesses. I vote for them to keep doing it.
    The Zabanehs do not have a drug problem. If anything, they have a drug business. Business is good for the local economy. My vote? Keep it up.
    American kids are hooked on drugs. That sounds like an American problem. Ask me if I care?
    American kids are turning to prostitution to feed their drug habits. I call that “beginning of the end.”
    The Zabanehs do not kill innocent people. The Americans do. Iraq? Afghanistan? Vietnam? Panama? Colombia?
    Bottom line: If I had to choose between the Americans and Belizean Zabaneh. Guess who I will choose?
    A word of advice to all Yankee lovers…. America will drain your youth, use your talent and when you get old, you will end up like Storm the blogger……. Lots of wind, and cast aside.

  28. zayed says:

    uncle benzy ur an @$$hole

  29. Now i see says:

    @ uncle benji, @ dor. You guys sound like the U.S. denied your visa to that great country. If the zabane’s are such heroes how come we dont hear what good they do to the country apart from under paying all the illegals that work for him. Because you could count with your two hands the reall Belizeans that work for him. He is also destroying our young generation or you really think that all that drug goes out of the country?. Besides all this zabane dont consider himself belizean he says he is 100% lebanees. And to @good girl you sound like the wife of the guy moreno the one that hides behind the bible. No wonder his dad build all those houses and the whore joint. From being a booze smugler-taxi driver to a very well known bussines man.GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  30. dor says:

    storm you know what is evil ? casting judgment on others without knowing anything about the individuals you are talking about and only going on (yeri so) i think u have (TBCS) typical belizean crabs syndrome . it is evident that they do not only deal drugs, running such large organizations require alot of hard work and intelligence. but people tend to never see the good just linger on negative things that are still not factual in my’s obvious people have a zabaneh issue because they are generalizing about the whole family instead of commenting about the said inndividual . look how some of you already talking about confiscating this man property and sharing it up. crabs again!!! then you are contradicting what you saying because then uno also have the mind of a drug dealer,and robbers who want quick wealth without working for it

  31. dawggie says:

    If u read up bout d sinola cartel you’ll read they have close relations with the knights Templar that mek it sound even more bias & if the US had hard evidence they would have already kidknap johnzabaneh and d others as we have seen d US done before in our country don’t you’ll remember d occasions they’ve done it before………remember the bully of the world

  32. MzPutToRight says:

    All downpressers who just LOVE to mind other people’s business will only talk for 9 days or until something else happens. Get real, I agree with all those commenting about “States” loving A-HOLES who willing to believe any and everything they say. Put half the effort into your own lives and leave hard working people alone, that’s why unu live like DAAAGGGG. I just have to laugh at you haters because you all have no proof to condemn anybody but quick to judge, half of you would LOVE to be that man but will NEVER be because you all have time to waste and don’t have the ambition nor sense to run successful businesses as he does. Start working hard and maybe you too can enjoy a comfortable life….easy for everyone to hurry say “it’s drugs” because they can’t believe hard work pays off, lazy @$$ belizeans only know about quick money or want everything given to them. How shameful. Grow the ! up

  33. BzeanByBirth says:

    Bottom line is this, neither USA or Belizeans have any proof so until then… lets get back to business. I understand the cartel’s power, while I do no proof no issue, then on the other hand America is indeed the biggest drug coonsuming country no argument there. If drugs is a problem there handle it there stop acussing without evidence. Neither of us do have any period. WAKE UP PEOPLE. America may be one of the largest and most powerful country but not everything they say is true…they know how to manipulate some of you… u got ur greencards and are afraid of admtting you’re a belizean

  34. belizean says:

    Well , remember Pablo Escobar of Colombia? he had many businesses and employed a few people in columbia and look at what happened to him!! he was shot dead looking like a swollen pig, I’m certain if the US/DEA want these guys they can do it the same way they got Escobar and others dealers. This is not news about these people and not because they are Belizeans we are supposed to support their illegal activities in any way, shape and form

  35. belizean says:

    To Uncle Benji you are right about where the problem lies, the demand for the drugs is in the US and they will do anything to get their dirty hands on it, but still our little Belize is going to hell because of the drugs and violence which occurs from it. I STILL LOVE MY BELIZE

  36. k107 says:

    The Zabanehs are great people and I can hardly believe this. And so people are not confused, this is not about ALL Zabanehs to begin with, only the ones mentioned. Also, the Zabanehs are very hard working and have given so much back to the country; it is safe to say that Belize would be nowhere without that family.

  37. dor says:

    @ now i see…you’re a full blown idiot,you think america red my eyes,,been there done that don’t care to go back of course you don’t hear anything good that’s because your waxy ears are only peeled to hear sh@t and your microscopic brains is only large enough to hold bad mind and being judgemental.his companies generate millions of dollars in taxes alone for this country per annum. it’s large organization like his that is generating large quantity of our taxes that give some belizean children scholorships and has belize functioning.
    mr.zabaneh employs anyone who cares to earn a living for themselves be it belizeans or aliens and if the people are not complaining about their pay why should you,you could employ them? no you probably the clean Batty da states or live off welfare right now.
    another thing you “liad” he could never say he’s 100% lebanese that’s because his family is from palestine not lebanon and all zabaneh were born in belize which makes them 100% belizean and it show through what they are doing for their country, not like you that is coming to defend america you pathetic soul

  38. taliban says:

    uno need fi stop downpress people outa road nuh because dah zabaneh but i believe all people who invest in belize drug money or ligit money shuda be supported ina deya times……….the zabaneh family in ah whole build school,church,hurricane shelta and most of all deh employ over 2000 workaz every yr plz nuh seh i dah wah zab puppet but dats facts people

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