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