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#444120 - 08/07/12 09:43 PM Belize-Based Operatives of Chapo Guzman Targets
Marty Offline

Chart of the Zabaneh organization

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is declaring that NO American can do business with five companies under the control of John Zabaneh and two of his associates, Dion Zabaneh (his nephew) and Daniel Moreno. These companies include: Mayan King Ltd.; Mid-South Investments Ltd.; Crown Paradise Enterprises Ltd.; Belize Chemicals Ltd.; and D’s Supermarket Company Ltd.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced the designation of John Zabaneh and two members of his drug trafficking organization, who are based in Belize and are key associates of Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera, and other members of the Sinaloa Cartel. The action also includes the designation of five companies in Belize that are owned or controlled by John Zabaneh or members of his organization. Today’s action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and companies, and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

“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,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. “By designating Zabaneh, OFAC is disrupting those activities and continuing its efforts, alongside those of our law enforcement partners, to expose operatives of Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel, including their businesses.”

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. John Zabaneh and his organization have been involved in narcotics trafficking since the 1980s. In addition to the designation of John Zabaneh, today’s action includes the designation of his nephew, Dion Zabaneh, and a close associate, Daniel Moreno. The action also includes the designation of five companies owned or controlled by John Zabaneh or Daniel Moreno. Zabaneh’s companies are Mayan King Limited (banana farm), Mid-South Investments Limited (building contractor and property consultant), Crown Paradise Enterprises Limited (resort management and marina), and Belize Chemicals Limited (pharmaceuticals). Moreno’s company is D’s Supermarket Company Limited (grocery store).

Today’s action would not have been possible without the key support of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“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," said DEA Chief of Financial Operations John Arvanitis. "The OFAC Designation of the Zabeneh organization is necessary to dismantle and further disrupt the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel in other parts of the world.”

Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel were identified by the President as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2001 and 2009, respectively.

Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 1,100 businesses and individuals linked to 97 drug kingpins since June 2000. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.

SOURCE

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#444160 - 08/08/12 12:42 PM Re: Belize-Based Operatives of Chapo Guzman Targets [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

US Treasury Dep't Accuses 3 B'zeans Of Involvement With Mexican Cartel

But the Hurricane was almost swept out of the headlines by a press release of seismic proportions. It comes out of Washington and was posted this morning at 9:00 am on the website of the US Department of Treasury.

It is the first of its kind and makes bald accusations against three Belizeans - alleging that they work with a major Mexican drug cartel.

The release is even accompanied by an organizational chart - and Jules Vasquez had a look at that today and fills in with some information from the press release:...

The chart posted on the US Treasury Department website and sent out in a US Embassy press release describes it as the John Zabaneh Drug Trafficking Organization - Sinaloa Cartel Operatives in Belize.

According to the New York Times, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for "as much as half of the illegal narcotics imported into the United States from Mexico each year."

The chart shows Zabaneh as the boss and Dion Zabaneh and Daniel Moreno as his associates.

And then it lists five companies that the Treasury Department claims "are owned or controlled by John Zabaneh or members of his organization."

Those companies are Mayan King Limited (banana farm), Mid-South Investments Limited (building contractor and property consultant) - which built, among other thing, Coney Drive in Belize City, Crown Paradise Enterprises Limited (resort management and marina), and Belize Chemicals Limited (pharmaceuticals). It says that Moreno's company is D's Supermarket Company Limited, a grocery store in Corozal.

The purposes of today's action is to quote, "prohibit U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and companies, and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction."

Joaquin Guzman Loera known as El Chapo is the boss of the Sinaloa cartel - he is on the Forbe's list of billionaires and is Mexico's most wanted man. According to this press release "(the US)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 press release quotes a US official as saying that "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 official adds that "By designating Zabaneh, OFAC is disrupting those activities and continuing its efforts, alongside those of our law enforcement partners, to expose operatives of Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel, including their businesses."

Johnny Zabaneh also told us that the informants tell the US what they want to hear. He added that he does not even know who his alleged associate Daniel Moreno is.

He says the US has dogged him with allegations from the 80's and claims that everything that happens, they always bring up his name first. He concedes that he did have his run in's with US law enforcement in his twenties. An internet search shows that in 1986, the then 31 year old Zabaneh was taken to trial in Texas for allegedly flying 1,120 pounds into that US State.

As for Daniel Moreno, we tried to reach him multiple times at his home in Corozal - but he was out. His wife Monica explained, that he was working with NEMO.

She told us that the allegations in the release are lies and the US has no right to make such allegations. She suspects the misinformation comes from a professional rivalry Moreno has over the ownership of a barge.

We note that Moreno's home was searched by the GSU in April and he was charged for the possession of a single shotgun cartridge. And, as for the other accused person, Dion Zabaneh, a relative told us he has been out of the country for the past month - so we could not get comment from him.

Dion Zabaneh - viewers will recall was implicated in September of 2005 for a December 2004 transaction in which he was allegedly given 6.2 million dollars to convert into US dollars for Telemedia - which was managed by the Ashcroft Alliance at the time. But BTL never got the US dollars and neither did it get back its 6.2 million Belize dollars.

And so, while all that is the background to a very colourful scene that the US Department of the Treasure has laid out, the facts are that there is no US criminal indictment pending for any of these gentlemen - and an official from the US embassy told us that the purpose of the engagement is simply to prohibit U.S persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the three individuals and five companies designated - while freezing any US assets. For Mayan King which is one of the larger banana farms in Belize - it seems to put that company in serious straits with its bankers - because their relationship could affect that Bank's correspondent relationship with a US bank.

And so will the US request extradition of these persons? Again, this is not a move by the Department of Justice - and a US embassy official told us, quote, "I am not aware of any intention to extradite them."

And does the US have evidence to back up these claims? The embassy official told us, quote, "The designation is not an action which was undertaken lightly or without proper consideration..."

http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1674.aspx

Channel 7


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#444191 - 08/08/12 04:20 PM Re: Belize-Based Operatives of Chapo Guzman Targets [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
NEMO PRESS RELEASE

The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) hereby responds to a statement concerning Daniel Moreno made on the Channel 7 news broadcast on Tuesday August 7/2012 under the caption ‘Treasury Targets Belize-Based Operatives of Chapo Guzman,’ “As for Daniel Moreno, we tried to reach him multiple times at his home in Corozal - but he was out. His wife Monica explained, that he was working with NEMO.”

While during times of emergencies there are many volunteers assisting NEMO, Daniel Moreno is neither a permanent employee nor a volunteer of NEMO and has not been doing any work for NEMO in any capacity.

A check of the list of Private Source / Providers of general goods food and Hygienic suppliers in the Corozal district emergency plan 2012 shows D’s store as one of the businesses among the many other private goods providers who may be contacted to sell supplies to NEMO Corozal District Emergency Committee in the event of a disaster. Any such contact would be in the course of a normal commercial transaction as with any other business establishment and does not constitute any specialized arrangement between the store and NEMO.

In this connection, therefore, NEMO hereby categorically states that Daniel Moreno does not and is not working for NEMO.

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#444246 - 08/09/12 12:55 PM Re: Belize-Based Operatives of Chapo Guzman Targets [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Johnny Zabs: Don't Know Daniel Moreno, Haven't Spoken With Dion Zabaneh

The Kingpin Act - that's what the US Department of Treasure has invoked to prohibit US citizens form doing business with Johnny Zabaneh - because they say he works for El Chapo - the boss of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel.

Well, two minutes ago, through his attorney, Zabaneh sent out a release saying he's no kingpin!

The release says, quote: Mr. Zabaneh and his companies categorically state that these wild and unsubstantiated accusations and any and all allegation of wrongdoing made…against him and his companies are false and highly defamatory."

It adds that quote, "Mr. Zabaneh and his companies are not engaged in drug trafficking, are not operatives of and have neither had nor currently have any affiliation or association with Joaquin Guzman Loera, the Sinaloa cartel or any other narco-trafficker whatsoever."

It also notes that, quote, "Mr. Zabaneh has never met nor heard of Daniel Moreno nor has he seen nor spoken with his nephew, Dion Zabaneh, for several years and does not know of his whereabouts."

And it also makes the case that Mayan King Limited is a legitimate business, employing over 750 workers, and generating over US$15 million in foreign exchange earnings per annum through exports of banana and citrus.

And that's really the rub. The release says, quote, "It is feared that these reckless fabrications may adversely affect the continuing operation of these businesses." Persons with a knowledge of the situation suggest that banks doing business with Mayan King may have their correspondent baking relationship with US banks threatened if they continue to do business with Mayan King.

According to the explosive release form the US Treasure Department yesterday, quote, (they are) "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.

John Zabaneh and his organization have been involved in narcotics trafficking since the 1980s."

Channel 7


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#444306 - 08/10/12 07:13 AM US looks to Belize for ties to Sinaloa drug cartel
Portofino Offline
U.S. looks to Belize for alleged ties to Sinaloa drug cartel
August 7, 2012 | 3:12 pm


MEXICO CITY -- The U.S. government’s effort to dismantle Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel is a war with multiple fronts. The latest is the tiny tourist jewel of Belize.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced it was freezing the assets of three Belize residents alleged to be drug traffickers and “key associates” of the Mexican drug trafficking group. The Treasury Department has also prohibited U.S. citizens from doing business with the suspects or their companies.

The focus on Belize — a polyglot, 327,000-resident wedge of the Yucatan just south of Cancun — is the latest evidence of the overwhelming influence of the south-to-north movement of drugs through Central America.

The U.S. government has estimated that up to 90% of the 700 metric tons of cocaine headed from South America to the U.S. wends its way through Central America, and every nation in the region is on the U.S. list of “major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries.”

Belize, along with El Salvador, was added to that U.S. “blacklist” of 22 nations in September in a presidential memorandum that noted numerous recent drug and weapons seizures on the Mexican side of the Mexico-Belize border, as well as the presence of Mexican cartels including the Zeta gang, the ruthless rival to the Sinaloa cartel.

The three suspects targeted Tuesday are John Zabaneh, described by U.S. officials as a “critical figure” with ties to Colombian suppliers and Mexican buyers; his nephew Dion Zabaneh, and a “close associate” named Daniel Moreno.

The Treasury Department also designated as off-limits a number of companies either owned or controlled by Moreno or John Zabaneh, including a building contractor, a resort and marina company, a pharmaceutical firm, a supermarket company, and a banana farm called Mayan King Ltd.

The bigger target, however, is the Sinaloa cartel, and its billionaire fugitive capo, Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman. Treasury officials say the Belizeans are associates of Guzman and other members of the cartel, the most powerful organized crime group in Mexico and perhaps the most powerful narcotics ring in the world.

“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,” Adam J. Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement. “By designating Zabaneh, OFAC is disrupting those activities and continuing its efforts, alongside those of our law enforcement partners, to expose operatives of Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel, including their businesses.”

The Treasury Department has the ability to “designate” foreign businesspeople with suspected drug ties under the Kingpin Act, which was signed in to law by President Clinton in 1999. Since then, U.S. officials have designated more than 1,100 businesses and individuals linked to 97 drug kingpins, according to government figures.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_no...apo-guzman.html

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#444313 - 08/10/12 12:57 PM Re: US looks to Belize for ties to Sinaloa drug cartel [Re: Portofino]
Marty Offline

Johnny Zabaneh Says US Drug Blacklisting Is Destroying His Business

Yesterday at the Mayan King Banana Farm in the Stann Creek District, farm owner John Zabaneh was unable to pay his 200 employees. He can't because his bank, which is the Belize Bank has notified him that it can no longer handle his account. And with a payroll of over two hundred thousand dollars - Zabaneh says he cannot manage it without a bank.

It's not personal, but because he's been blacklisted as a Drug Kingpin by the US Department of Treasury, no bank will do business with him. If they do, they stand to jeopardize what's known as their correspondent banking relationship with US banks that provide services for them abroad.

And that's the precise effect of Tuesday's action by the US Department of Treasury. Their Office of Foreign Assets Control designated John Zabaneh, his nephew Dion Zabaneh, Corozal grocery store owner Daniel Moreno and their companies as "key associates of "Chapo" Guzman, and his Sinaloa drug Cartel. Once designated, U.S. citizens and companies are barred from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and companies.

Today Zabaneh told us that his employees are continuing to work - despite not having been paid - but says he has to come up with a solution, and fast.

Zabaneh says his farm workers pack about 27 to 30 thousand boxes of bananas per week - more than a quarter of the industry output, so it's no small matter.

A press release sent out on yesterday by Zabaneh stated that the Mayan King operation, which includes citrus and banana farms generate over US$15 million in foreign earnings.

The release calls the allegations of cartel involvement wild and unsubstantiated. It adds Zabaneh has never met nor heard of Daniel Moreno and has not spoken with his nephew, Dion Zabaneh, for several years.

We do note a report in the Houston Chronicle which states that that Zabaneh was arrested by the DEA for drug trafficking in 1986. Speaking to us today, he conceded that he had run in with the law when he was younger, but says he has left that life behind. He claims that in the past, the DEA camped out on the roads in his farm waiting for drug planes to land - which he says never happened.

He adds that just last year he went in to apply for a US visa and was told that his application would have to go up to the State Department for further review.

According to the release from US Treasury, its action would not have been possible without the key support of the DEA.

As US Embassy official in Belize told us that the action by the Treasury Department was not undertaken lightly or without proper consideration.

We do note a report in the Houston Chronicle which states that that Zabaneh was arrested by the DEA for drug trafficking in 1986. Speaking to us today, he conceded that he had run in with the law when he was younger, but says he has left that life behind. He claims that in the past, the DEA camped out on the roads in his farm waiting for drug planes to land - which he says never happened.

He adds that just last year he went in to apply for a US visa and was told that his application would have to go up to the State Department for further review.

According to the release from US Treasury, its action would not have been possible without the key support of the DEA.

An US Embassy official in Belize told us that the action by the Treasury Department was not undertaken lightly or without proper consideration.

Channel 7


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#444327 - 08/10/12 02:16 PM Re: US looks to Belize for ties to Sinaloa drug cartel [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Zabaneh's local assets frozen

Courtenay Coye Law firm, which has been retained by John Zabaneh, yesterday issued a release on Zabaneh’s behalf refuting the designation issued by the the US Treasury. It states and we quote “Mr. Zabaneh and his companies categorically state that these wild and unsubstantiated accusations and any and all allegation of wrongdoing made therein against him and his companies are false and highly defamatory. Mr. Zabaneh and his companies are not engaged in drug trafficking, are not operatives of and have neither had nor currently have any affiliation or association with Joaquin Guzman Loera, the Sinaloa cartel or any other narco-trafficker whatsoever.” The release further disproves any close affiliation between John Zabaneh and his nephew Dion Zabaneh and states that “Mr. Zabaneh has never met nor heard of Daniel Moreno.” According to the release the Zabaneh group of companies employs over 750 workers and pays over $2.5 million per annum in taxes and duties and generate over US$15 million in foreign exchange earnings per annum through exports. Again the release states that “Mr. Zabaneh and his companies are certain that they will be fully exonerated from these false accusations.” The purported conspiracy of complicity in the narcotics trade, as levied against Zabaneh by the US Treasury is gaining traction. Just before news time tonight, we were reliably informed that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has moved in on John Zabaneh and frozen all his local assets. We attempted to get a comment from Marilyn Williams, the Director of the FIU but there was no response from her office line. This move could spurn serious economic backlash not only for the Zabaneh business interests, but as well for over 750 employees who depend on these businesses for their bread and butter. We certainly will have more on this story in tomorrow’s newscast.

PlusTV


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#444369 - 08/11/12 12:52 PM Re: US looks to Belize for ties to Sinaloa drug cartel [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Sinaloa Zabaneh!

The Unites States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Tuesday, August 7, 2012, that the Stann-Creek based, Belizean business magnate, John Zabaneh, his nephew Dion Zabaneh, of Belize City, and Corozal-based businessman Daniel G. Moreno, as well as five businesses associated with the elder Zabaneh and Moreno, have been named under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act as persons and companies that can no longer do business with US individuals and companies.

The measure also calls for all their assets under US jurisdiction to be frozen, as the persons listed have been pinpointed by the US as operatives of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel in Belize.

Since June 2000, OFAC has designated more than 1,100 businesses and individuals linked to 97 drug kingpins, the office said. John Zabaneh is #1159 on the list.

“Today’s action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and companies, and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction,” said the statement from US Treasury.

According to Zabaneh, the news took him by surprise. He said that he received a call from 7 News Director, Jules Vasquez, right after breakfast Tuesday, asking about the newly announced sanctions.

Zabaneh, a major player in the banana industry exporting primarily to the EU market, told us that he keeps a very small account in the US, which currently has about US$30,000, and he has it there “for doing purchases and things like that.” He contends that he makes his money legitimately. He told us that the Financial Intelligence Unit in Belize is presently checking into his Belize accounts, and he has absolutely no problem with that.

“If I am such that they are trying to claim, there should be some serious millions somewhere,” John Zabaneh told our newspaper.

According to OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin, “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. By designating Zabaneh, OFAC is disrupting those activities and continuing its efforts, alongside those of our law enforcement partners, to expose operatives of Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel, including their businesses.”

“I am not a representative; I am not a facilitator of any of these cartels that they claim. I have never been a facilitator and never will be. I want them to put their mind at rest. That is not so,” Zabaneh told Amandala in response.

“I definitely have to respond. My lawyers will advise me what to do or what options I have,” he added. “I am not about to start any war with the US. You won’t get anywhere with that. I don’t even want to be rude to them,” he said.

Zabaneh said that in the 1980s, he was convicted on drug-related charges in the US. “This is why they can’t lay off me,” he added.

The photo appearing on the US Treasury Department’s organizational chart featuring him along with his nephew and Moreno appears to be his recent driver’s license photo, Zabaneh said.

The US Treasury statement issued Tuesday, along with an organizational chart, alleged that John and Dion Zabaneh, and Daniel Moreno “are key associates of Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman Loera, and other members of the Sinaloa Cartel.”

It added that, “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 Sinaloa Cartel, named after the Sinaloa province in Mexico, is deemed one of the most powerful narco-trafficking organizations in this hemisphere. Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, a.k.a. El Azul, a former Mexican Federal Judicial Police (PJF) officer, is named as the head of the organization. Just last month, the US took similar actions against Juan Moreno, his two wives, their alleged associates and several of their businesses, including a shopping mall and several gas stations.

According to an April 15, 2009, White House statement, the Kingpin Act became law on December 3, 1999. That same statement named the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, and La Familia Michoacana for sanctions. The persons and entities named are identified by the President but must also be approved for sanctions at the level of the US Congress.

The 2009 statement noted that the intent is “to deny significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their related businesses, and their operatives access to the U.S. financial system and to prohibit all trade and transactions between the traffickers and U.S. companies and individuals.”

In the latest listing, identifying Moreno and the Zabanehs (John and Dion), the sanction also named Moreno’s business, D’s Supermarket Limited on College Road, Corozal; and John Zabaneh’s enterprises – Mayan King Limited, Mid-South Investments Limited, Crown Paradise Enterprises Limited and Belize Chemicals Limited.

The last time Dion Zabaneh’s name was in the news was in 2007, when it was alleged that three years prior, in 2004, he had received $6.2 million from the then Chief Finance Officer of Belize Telecommunications Limited (now Belize Telemedia Limited) to convert to US dollars. BTL, which had been using the parallel market to obtain US dollars, had revealed that it had never received the US dollar equivalent.

Zabaneh said that he has not seen Dion in as many as 6 years. As for Moreno, he said: “I do not know him and I am repeating it as many times. I don’t know this man. This is a fact.... I don’t even know this guy. I don’t know the supermarket.” (Amandala called Moreno for comment but could not reach him.)

“I don’t know who is giving those kinds of information [to the US] but it is wrong. It is totally erroneous...” Zabaneh continued. “What do you call intelligence now?”

The US Treasury statement issued Tuesday contends that John Zabaneh and his organization have been involved in narco-trafficking since the 1980s.

Zabaneh said that the US has had him under heavy DEA surveillance since his 1985 marijuana conviction in Texas, for which he had received a sentence of 35 years after an indictment on 7 counts, which included allegations that in 1981, he tried to export 1,160 pounds of marijuana into the US via aircraft. He was granted a retrial on appeal, but the case was later aborted and he was sent back to Belize, Zabaneh said, claiming that the evidence against him was weak.

He told us that a DEA informant had previously visited him in Dangriga with a suitcase full of money trying to cut a purported drug deal, and he contacted police in Belmopan, who advised him to tie the man up and take him in to Belmopan police. According to Zabaneh, the same man, under the name “Carlos”, who was handed over to the Commissioner of Police here, appeared at the US trial and accused him of planting rows of marijuana between each row of banana trees on his farm.

Zabaneh said that officials of the banana association here were subpoenaed to testify that the claim made by “Carlos” was false.

Zabaneh told us that ever since his return to Belize around 1989/1990, he has been “tormented by agents and probably legitimate operators who all come under the same pretext, and all go back empty-handed.”

He said that American agents are sent to camp at his farms and he has been contending with that ever since his return to Belize.

The businessman told us that whereas he does not know of any extradition request made to hand him over to US authorities, he is afraid to travel abroad now and would be stupid to try and leave the country with the “kingpin” designation in effect.

In 1985, the US nabbed John Zabaneh in Guatemala and had him taken to Texas for trial on the drug trafficking charges.

“I am trapped here... They have grounded me here in Belize,” said Zabaneh. “I wouldn’t want to travel right now with this thing all over the world. I’d be stupid to travel.”

According to the US Treasury statement, “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.”

It said that Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel were identified by the President as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2001 and 2009, respectively.

Under the US law, US persons and companies who proceed with doing business with John Zabaneh, Dion Zabaneh and Daniel Moreno, and their designated companies, face civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation or much more severe criminal penalties.

“Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act,” it added.

According to Zabaneh, who anticipates some financial fallout due to the listing, he makes his living primarily from farming bananas and citrus.

In a press release issued Wednesday, he said that his struggling farms employ 750 workers, pay over $2.5 million in taxes and duties, and generate over US$15 million in foreign exchange earnings a year.

John Zabaneh told us that he will reply to the US designation via his attorney, Eamon Courtenay, SC, who recently represented him in the courts in the case of Mayan King versus six former banana workers. Courtenay is currently out of the country, but Zabaneh said that he plans to proceed with challenging the US sanction as soon as his attorney returns.

He also said that they would be seeking an audience with the US Embassy to discuss the matter.

Amandala


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#444668 - 08/16/12 02:01 PM Re: US looks to Belize for ties to Sinaloa drug cartel [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

John Zabaneh speaks with PlusTV about US Drug Kingpin Designation

As you may be aware, John Zabaneh has been recently black listed by the U.S. Department-Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). According to OFAC three Belizean businessmen John Zabaneh, his nephew Dion Zabaneh, and a close associate, Daniel Moreno are key associates of Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman Loera and other members of the Sinaloa Cartel. Plus news was able to travel south late Friday evening and had an extended interview with John Zabaneh in which he told his part of the story. In that interview we questioned Zabaneh as to his relation and ties with the named individuals in the release.

John Zabaneh – Proprietor of Mayan King
It was a complete surprise when I was informed of this by Jules Vasquez. Naturally I know my nephew but he lives in Belize City and I live here. He doesn’t come to Dangriga, he doesn’t come to where I am because he is a Belize City boy , and I don’t go there. I have not seen him or spoken to him in at least 6 to 7 years maybe more! The other gentleman I don’t even know him, or know of him, (I have) never heard of him. They are definitely at fault this time, it’s just to wonder now if they would concede to their mistakes and beg pardon.

The release which was issued worldwide late last week also stated that US persons are prohibited from conducting business with the three men. For John Zabaneh that is not the best of news for both him and the country of Belize as his company Mayan King brings in an approximate US15million Dollars in revenues.

John Zabaneh – Proprietor of Mayan King
Well it is quite a bit because we are exporting between 27,000 to 30,000 boxes of bananas weekly and our citrus production is nearing 400,000. It fluctuates sometimes but anywhere between 325,000 and 500,000 boxes of oranges. As you can see out here, right here in nearby villages, you are looking at between 2,500 and 3,000 people who depend directly (on Maya King).

And while he maintains that there is no proof to what OFAC is saying and that it's all fabricated; in closing Zabaneh did have a few words for US Ambassador to Belize, Vinai Thummalapally.

John Zabaneh – Proprietor of Mayan King
It very unfortunate that all this (has) happened. It is a complete surprise to me. This is not something to rejoice over because this is as good as a foreign invasion. While there might be some people out there looking at this disaster on the family, it is our country that is going to feel on the long run...There is not much to say; except that "Mr. Ambassador look out for me and I am coming to see you with my attorney, of course.

n our interview with him, Zabaneh urged the other blacklisted men to speak with the media and clear their name concerning the designation issued against them. You can view Plus TV's interview with John Zabaneh in its entirety during the Rise and Shine Morning Show.

PlusTV


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#444670 - 08/16/12 02:02 PM Re: US looks to Belize for ties to Sinaloa drug cartel [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

US Embassy in Belize comments on John Zabaneh Drug Kingpin Designation

Based on our interview with John Zabaneh and the Press Release Plusnews had some questions for the U.S. Embassy. PlusNews spoke with Public Relations Officer for the US Embassy, Eric Heyden, concerning the recent press release by the U.S. Department-Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). We will give you a preview of that interview we had with Heyden this evening.

Jesse Mendoza – PlusTV Journalist
Who authorized this investigation?

Eric Heyden - US Embassy Public Relations Officer
This decision, this designation is authorized under US law. The Kingpin Act is designed to protect the US Security, US Foreign Policy and the US Economy. So it was under the authorization of the US law that this designation was made by the Department of Treasury.

Jesse Mendoza – PlusTV Journalist
How long has the investigation been ongoing?

Eric Heyden - US Embassy Public Relations Officer
I don’t know but I can tell you that these investigations are not undertaken haphazardly. So I am sure that there was some proper effort and consideration made.

Under the King Pin Act a little over a thousand persons have been named. We questioned Heyden if he has any knowledge as to whether any of the allegations brought against the persons named have been found to be untrue. Here's his response.

Eric Heyden - US Embassy Public Relations Officer
...A Couple different question here. First, I think, was. Have any of the designations, a thousand or so you made a reference to, ever found improper or in any fashion resented or counter managed? To my knowledge, No. These actions, as I said earlier, are not undertaken lightly and because of such a cautious care-holder, professional approach taken before designation is announced, I am not aware of any that have ever been, you might say, reversed or remanded or retraction and that sort of thing. That been the case I the answer to your question is No.

Jesse Mendoza – PlusTV Journalist
Who validates that information?

Eric Heyden - US Embassy Public Relations Officer
Anyone who has been designated is permitted to petition the US Department of Treasury to reconsider, perhaps, bring new facts into evidence. Something they haven’t considered in some way, and if someone has been successful in such a petition, well, then I suppose they might possible have been a retraction. Again I am not aware of any counter manage decision or retraction, to my knowledge all the designations have stood.

We also questioned Heyden as to whether the department is considering taking any further action or seeking extradition.

Jesse Mendoza – PlusTV Journalist
Will the department file any charges, as only a press release was sent out, and do you know if they will be seeking any extradition?

Eric Heyden - US Embassy Public Relations Officer
don’t know. To say it in a more positive fashion . I am not aware of any ongoing extradition. Remember that the king pin act is on primarily to protect the economy of the US , the policy , the security of the US . the department of treasury has civil jurisdictions , the department of treasury has criminal jurisdictions. It could be that they are planning t o do something else but I am not aware of any other activities.

Jesse Mendoza – PlusTV Journalist
In taking these precautionary measures, are they not tainting the name of others in the processes and not releasing the evidence they have? I am not asking for them to release all the evidence but at least some of what they have to show that proof...

Eric Heyden - US Embassy Public Relations Officer
Well I am not assure that there is any tainting going on. To the best of my knowledge. The release by the Department of Treasury consists of a series of facts; that is to say true statements. If some of those statement are some how untrue, or Mr. Zabaneh wanted to enter some dialogue over to the Department of Treasury then we could see where that might lead. But as far as I know, you asked me a very good question earlier what about these thousands instances in the past as any of them been prooved to be untrue. No they are not.

We will have more from this interview with Eric Heyden.

PlusTV


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