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#487420 - 03/05/14 03:51 AM Johnny Zabs Takes On Tough Questions
Marty Online   happy

Says He Wants His Life Back

Like him or loathe him, one thing we can say about Johnny Zabaneh, is that he's got "ganas." Not only did he do an interview in front of the US Embassy in Belmopan, he also spoke out against the feared Sinaloa drug cartel, in which the Americans said he was a Kingpin. So, in a sense he was daring both the Embassy and the Cartel to dispute or disprove his claim that he has never been a part of the cartel.

Zabaneh told us his truth, and Jules Vasquez put the tough questions to him. Here's how that went.

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"I'm here, for the naked truth. And I hope, at the end of the day, my truthfulness is evaluated by the members of this press and abroad, the US Embassy, Washington and all concerned."

Jules Vasquez
"However, sir, let's speak plainly and I don't do it to insult you but it is a perceptual fact in Belize, that doesn't mean it's a fact, but it's how people perceive - I grew up hearing that "you da di drug man down south, da you run di drugs down south" and that has morph into a perceptual fact that it's widely accepted Johnny Zab as you are called "you da di king pin down south, you da di boss down south.""

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"Well I've been put on that pedestal, people grow up hearing that John Zabaneh was in jail in the US and all that and it never gets out of the mind - it's a small community and I guess I will live and die with that, but where are the facts, where are the facts?"

Jules Vasquez
"In the 1980's, you've admitted you were involved in the movement of marijuana. Since then, have you engaged in the trafficking of cocaine into Belize/out of Belize into any other country?"

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"Not before, not in those days and not in these days. Not even in those days gone by in the marijuana days - not even then."

Jules Vasquez
"Have you been involved in the movement of any chemical precursors or pseudoephedrine?"

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"Never, never."

And while he say "never," he can only speak for himself. Zabaneh was implicated by the Americans along with Corozal businessman Daniel Moreno and his nephew Dion Zabaneh. He told us about his interactions with the two of them since the US sent out the Kingpin designation in August 2011:..

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"Well I can say something for my nephew. My nephew has provided me with an affidavit that at the time of that sanctioning, he has not seen me for at least 7 years. The last I have seen him before that was at his wedding in Belize City. He has no business with me legal or illegal. I have sent on numerous on numerous occasions' attorneys to try to find this other guy Mr. Moreno and the guy out rightly refuse. I am not telling what to put on an affidavit; if you know me then put it yes, I have done business with him, I sold him a roll of toilet paper, or whatever, or I don't know him or have never seen him in my life. From the best of my knowledge I have never seen that man ever or spoken to him and I want an affidavit from him, he's allegedly associated with me - that would be good for him. If he is not associated with me to state so, but the guy refused to appear."

We contacted the US embassy in Belmopan for comment on some of his statements and are awaiting a reply. But, clearly, Zabaneh is trying to take the game to them. He appeared on their front door and last night you heard him say he is willing to face a panel of DEA, CIA or any configuration of US officials. Indeed, he's a desperate man. He's had to give us his substantial business interests in the banana industry because no bank can do business with someone who has a Kingpin designation. Secondly, members of his family have also been targeted - right down to his 5 year old grandson - whose hundred dollar credit union account was also closed. The pressure on Zabaneh is extreme, and he told us he just wants his life back:..

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"So, I'm not here to be confrontational to the US Embassy, nor to the DEA, nor to Washington. I'm here to get, to provide an update on my situation, because since the capture of Mr. Guzman everyone wants to know, and the ants nest is raised again. To be the big second man, or the big man here for Chapo Guzman, that has, we hear billions of dollars. Man, it's a joke. I have provided all my information to Washington - all my information. I was the one who informed them of my bank account in the US. They did not know about it. I was the one. I had the opportunity to bail it out, to take out everything. Because even after my labeling, even after, the sanctions came out on me these accounts were still active. I was still making cheques. And I could have bailed out everything that I had. But, I provided them the information, they did not know about it. And I have, I can prove that. I gave them that information. You know what happened? Immediately they froze it. And I asked them to, please, man, investigate. The bank has to have the source of those funds. And if there's anything wrong, come on, I'm here I don't have any tunnels. I am right there in Dangriga. They could walk right through my gate; I don't have any butler, or guards."

"But even some local businesses don't want to do business with me because they're afraid they might take away their visa. I'm suffering some great consequences here me and my family - great consequence."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, do you have a chequing account? How do you manage your affairs?"

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"I hardly have any affairs to manage these days to be honest with you."

Jules Vasquez
"Well you are not broke; you roll up in 3 vehicles."

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"I could only drive one vehicle. I roll up in one vehicle and as you notice they are no Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce or BMWs out there. The vehicles that I buy I buy from Copart - happy to say, from Copart, salvage title - that what I drive because we're really, we're really bucking it's really difficult. I have been marginalized myself and my family. We've been jeopardized. I am just hoping that Washington know that Mr. Guzman has been caught, could try to get to the bottom of it."

Jules Vasquez
"Why is it so important for you personally to be removed from this king pin designation? You can't travel to the United Stated."

Johnny Zabaneh, Refutes Kingpin Status
"Because it's wrong, it's false. I want to get back my life for myself, my family. I want back my life that I can go back to my farming and I don't need that to go into drugs."

Join us tomorrow, when we'll have the final set of comments from this unusual interview. We'll ask Zabaneh about those 13 stolen VEHICLES found on his farm back in 2001.

Channel 7

#487509 - 03/06/14 04:38 AM Re: Johnny Zabs Takes On Tough Questions [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Zabaneh Says Heís Not A Kingpin!

Tonight we have the third part of our extended interview with business man and industrial farmer John Zabaneh.  The United States Office of Foreign Asset Control has designated him as a Kingpin, and alleged that he is the head of a local drug organization that works for the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexican.  Now, since the boss of the Sinaloa Cartel Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman has been arrested in Mexico, Zabaneh is begging US authorities to clear his name, by asking Guzman if he knows Zabaneh and if he plays any role in the Cartel. 

 It’s simplistic and far-fetched, but that’s how far Zabaneh is willing to go.  He’s a desperate man, desperate to get out from under the Kingpin Designation, which has destroyed his business, and doesn’t even permit him to have a bank or credit union account.

 On Monday, Zabaneh told us about the man he believes tried to entrap him.  That is Kahari Nash – who Zabaneh first discussed inMonday night’s interview.  Since then we have also been trying to find out about Nash – but neither the US Embassy in Belize nor the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Washington would comment.  But, he’s a compelling part of Zabaneh’s story – here’s how he explained it:

John Zabaneh – Trying To Clear His Name
“ first time I ever heard the name Chapo Guzman was from this gentleman.  And he keep coming back, and he keep coming back.  Every time he comes, to have it on record, I report it.  Every single time.  Every single time, it’s reported.  I…”

Jules Vasquez
“So, how did you respond when, he’s trying to induce you into drug deals.  How did you respond when he would try and induce you?”

John Zabaneh
“This guy would not let up.  I told him exactly that:  “I don’t know who you’re 30:33 talking about, and I am not in that business.”

Jules Vasquez
“He told you some very insulting things that you have shown me.  And you still accept him on your property?”

John Zabaneh
“I am facilitating. He’s doing a job. And obviously, like the last time he came, this guy just stayed in front of my house, I went out to work, I come to Belmopan, I go to Belize City, he’s right there.”

Jules Vasquez
“Has he declared himself since then as an agent of…?”

John Zabaneh
None at all.  None at all.   When I told him look, I know, this guy was very insulting, very aggressive, very nasty and, but he still keep coming back.  And, I thought to be facilitated, this guy is here, let him do his job and get off, what he’s, he does not….

Jules Vasquez
“So up until recently, he’s inviting you to enter into drug business with him.”


John Zabaneh
“Up to recently, because, one, I am not in that business, no one will lure me into that business. And secondly I will not be set up or get entrapped so I make sure I am covered on all ends.”

But Zabaneh is to some extent, lunging at shadows – because he says he doesn’t know really where the Kingpin designation came from. He says it could also be from when that loaded drug plane landed on the Southern Highway in November of 2010.   Now we have heard a lot of names in conjunction with that plane, but no local mastermind was ever established.  Zabaneh says it’s not him:

John Zabaneh
"This had to come from right here locally.  Somebody came up with this story, and it had to be somebody influential. I don't know as I said, if it was so, I could more narrow it down and see, but I don't know. I still keep asking myself where this came from. I can only think, because at the time, that plane landed in the south. It was around that time that this thing started to be, that I got on this sanction list.  So, I wonder if they are trying to connect me with that.  And I want to state categorically that I have nothing absolutely to do with that, nor the people involved with it. They don’t think that I am not working, they think that I am slick.  But no slick person would land an airplane on the highway.  And I want the DEA to really take this into account.  No slick person would land an airplane on the highway a day where there’s the Battle of the Drums in Punta Gorda, and there’s probably a thousand vehicles headed down there. If that is one of the reason I have been put on this sanction list, OFAC, take it off. It’s total garbage."

And while he’s not into landing planes, back in November of 2001, he was into stolen vehicles from Guatemala.  A bunch of them were found on his Mayan King Farm.  Now, that’s not drug running, but it is large scale illicit activity, and we asked Zabaneh about it

Jules Vasquez
"A number of stolen vehicles, or vehicles that were reported to be stolen, 30 or so I believe, were found on your farm."

John Zabaneh
"I believe that there were 13. Well, I can only say this much. I have never been to Guatemala and stolen any vehicle. I have lost a number of vehicles that I bought, hat turned out to be stolen, like many other people the length and breadth of this country. Those 13 vehicles, however, had no connection with me whatsoever."

Jules Vasquez
"But they were found on your farm."

John Zabaneh
"They were found on my farm, not - yes, they were found on my farm and otherwise, but I don't want to speak for the dead. I don't want to speak for or blame the dead. The person, let's say, he went to heaven. I am not going to say that vehicles were not taken away from me that were found to be stolen. I bought vehicles. I am always looking for vehicles - as I said, I buy vehicles from Copart. Everybody looks for a deal, and these deals came around, all the questions can be asked. All the questions can be asked. I am just by a name, and apparently, we're going to die with the name." 

But Kingpin is not the name he wants to die with, and he made one last defence that he is not a drug dealer or a money launderer.  Why?  Because he says drug dealers don’t need banks, and he needed plenty of them:

John Zabaneh
"Ever since I took over the management of the farms, there was not a single year that we did not borrow from one bank or the other, or several banks at the same time, a million and a half dollars or more, there was not a single year.  Every single time, financial statements had to be provided.  So to look at it, if I am involved, I am accused of money laundering or so - because OFAC that’s what it is - of being involved with Mr. Guzman, I would not need to borrow, it’s not consistent borrowing money and laundering at the same time."

The US Embassy declined to comment on all our inquiries about John Zabaneh.  They referred us to the office of Foreign Assets Control in Washington.  We forwarded our questions, but at newstime, had not gotten a reply.

Channel 7


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