El Chapo Mexico’s richest and most dangerous drug baron was captured last week Saturday. As you may remember, in 2012, John Zabaneh, Belizean business man, was blacklisted by the U.S. Department-Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
He was designated by OFAC as part of the Sinaloa Cartel and a conspirator of ‘El Chapo’. However he still maintains that these are mere allegations and claims he has never met the man they call ‘El Chapo’.
“I almost fell of the chair…total surprise to me! I was in a state of shock. The first time I had ever heard it was from you…the very first time I ever heard it”.
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “How can…you could just know it’s erroneous. I am in partnership with…what’s the guy…Moreno, Dion Guzman and myself. The only one I know there is Dion. He is naturally my nephew”.
According to Zabaneh, the only person he knew from the list of people associated with drug Cartels was his nephew Dion Zabaneh. But even so, John claims he has had no dealings with him and affirms he has received affidavits from his nephew.
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “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 seven years. The last time I have seen him before that, was at his wedding in Belize City. By that time, he had already moved from Dangriga and lived in Belize City, and he provided that he has no business with me, legal or illegal”.
Nevertheless, he did not deny that in the 1980’s he was a part of the massive marijuana dealings in the black market in those years.
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “However, in the early 80s, I did some stupid things, and I was made to pay for it in the United States. I came back, and that skeleton has been buried. The stupid things I did in the 1980s was in the field of illegal marihuana operations like many others in Belize. Unfortunately, I was one of the very few that was made to pay for it”.
Unfortunately for Zabaneh, the past seems to have caught up with him, not only at the expense of his reputation as a business man, but also at the expense of his family’s welfare. As it turns out, four generations of his family have been affected by his sanction.
According to Zabaneh, his parents , his children, and his grandchild have been blacklisted. As a result of his sanction in 2012, he no longer manages Maya King Ltd and Mid-South Investments Ltd, which were also blacklisted by OFAC.
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “I have been out of it. The management of Mayan King and myself are not there anymore, and I cannot speak for them; there was an interview with the owners, and Mr. Wade could provide that because he did it, but there is nothing I can say because I am out f that (me and my company)and I am proud to say today that I…Mayan King and Mid-south are companies that were mine, that I operated..I am proud to say! And after I am cleared hopefully, I will re-enact these companies because they are totally clean. There is absolutely for labeling them under OFAC and to have sanctions on these companies”.
However there was a third company, Belize Chemicals Ltd. which was also associated with John Zabaneh. But according to him, he has no affiliations with that company.
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “I have no affiliations with that company. This Cuban fellow came and I assisted him in forming the company and assisted him in getting a loan from the Belize Bank to operate that company. I have nothing to do with that company, with the management…nor nothing else to do with it”.
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “It was , oh yeah, it was functional, definitely”.
Reporter: “So, but was your name on a paper?”
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “At the beginning, it had to be there because I actually for him to gih’…he couldn’t get a loan for himself. After he paid off, my name was taken off. I have nothing to do with that company; absolutely nothing…I assisted him in getting established and that was it; I had nothing to do with it, I washed my hands, but I would vouch that there is no hanky panky or no…nothing crooked going on in there”.
However, through it all, Zabaneh believes that there is a gleam of hope that these sanctions will be lifted from his name.
Mr. John Angel Zabaneh: “Since my being put out in the OFAC list in august of 2012, I have been taken off the prevoius case file number and put on anther case file number on the reconsideration list. There must be some merits or some cause for that. That’s a little glimmer of hope. Somebody has to say, well, you know, he may be right..let see. So, that is my hope…it’s a glimmer of hope”.
Mr. Zabaneh affirms he is utterly bewildered and cannot understand who would associate him with ‘El Chapo’ and the Sinaloa Cartel.