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Aug 23, 2012

Update on the U.S. designation of John Zabaneh as drug kingpin

John Zabaneh

On August seventh, businessman John Zabaneh was designated as a drug kingpin operating for the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel. His nephew Dion Zabaneh and Corozal resident Daniel Moreno were also named as associates. The US government declared that the assets of the three were being frozen in the United States and that US businesses and citizens can no longer conduct business with the men. It’s a major blow to the banana industry because John Zabaneh has interests in Mayan King Farms which exports bananas. On Wednesday the Prime Minister was asked about the status of the sanctions, he said has he has met with the big players in the industry.


Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“I don’t know what material the U.S. Treasury had that made it feel it was entitled to make the designation so I can’t comment on that. I’ve already said that it was obvious to me that there was not the kind of evidence that would sustain an indictment otherwise I’m sure there would have been. Government’s reaction; what government is able to do is limited because this designation does not directly affect Belize at all. It is not as though the U.S. is saying because of the designation; people in Belize are prevented from doing business with Mister Zabaneh. They merely stopped U.S. nationals from doing business with Mr. Zabaneh. But what has happened is that the local banks have, I suppose out of an abundance of caution, as I understand it stopped doing business with Mr. Zabaneh. Given the importance of his banana holdings to the sector and to the economy, the people in the banana industry are trying to work out some kind of arrangement that will allow that farm or those farms to continue in existence to continue in operation. I have had meetings with Banana Growers Association; I’ve had two meetings and we continue to be in touch to see if that solution along those lines can, in fact, be worked out.”


The other businesses being affected are Mid-South Investments Limited, Crown Paradise Enterprises, Belize Chemicals and D’s Supermarket Company.


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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6 Responses for “Update on the U.S. designation of John Zabaneh as drug kingpin”

  1. Rod says:

    This is nothing more than an aligation why is this allowed to happen I bet if he was a black man the pm would have cleared him the prejudice and bigotry of this pm is so obvious it’s pathetic .

  2. Storm says:

    Hon. PM, I want you to do better, because I want the nation to do better. But I must point out that it does not seem thoughtful to say, “I don’t know what material” the U.S. has on Zabaneh & Co., and then immediately follow with, “It was obvious to me that there was not the kind of evidence that would sustain an indictment.”

    If you don’t know, you don’t know. Period. And I am pretty sure it is the case that you do not know, because the U.S. generally is tight-lipped about cartel drug investigations, even indictments are sealed until arrests are made.

    As to what concerns Belize, I hope some way can be found to keep the banana industry operating legally — which means, I assume, that Zabaneh and his cronies will have to be entirely removed from it, in fact and not just in form.

  3. now i see says:

    Why dont you ask el Chapo to pay what Belize owes? He has almost all the money in the world. In return all you have to do is: let him land some planes just like what Mario Villanueva did in Chetumal.

  4. Vuk says:

    Rod, I know things are bad and that the current UDP administration isn’t doing as much as they should to rectify the country’s situation, but, come on now, this “I blame the ruling party for everything that’s wrong in Belize” stuff is irritating, especially when, in this case, it wasn’t even they who caused this situation to develop; it was the *U.S. Treasury*. If you have issues with how Mr. Zabaneh is being treated, why don’t you take it up with the U.S. authorities instead?

  5. Serious says:

    Last I checked I lived in BELIZE not in the US. We were given independence so why are we allowing the US to dicate to us? I mean they are ruining a man’s reputation without solid evidence. They want to stop the drug cartel why dont they look inward at their ownself instead of blaming others for their problems? Mr. Zabaneh owns the land that is growing the bananas and he was the one to start the banana export while the rest of Belize sat on their behinds. Lets wake up and take our heads out of the clouds.

  6. rubs says:

    for sure the GOB is getting share from this kinda people. that’s why he has nothing much to comment. what a disgrace is BELIZE….. where’s our MAJESTY queen elizabeth when belize needs her. damn freaking politicians

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