Since 2012 John Zabaneh has had to engage in a public campaign to defend his name after the United States Government placed him on the notorious list of Designated Narcotics Traffickers and accused him of having ties with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. As a result of the designation, the U.S. threatened to freeze the assets of any U.S. company carried out business with Zabaneh or his companies. Zabaneh denied the allegations that he fits the criteria, but the designation affected his business ventures. In October of that year, even businesses such as Mayan King Banana Farms in Dangriga which is indirectly involved with him was forced to close when U.S. owned Fyffes stopped buying bananas from them, sending over 700 banana workers out of a job.
After years of battling the mighty Uncle Sam, today Zabaneh was vindicated when a release was issued by his attorneys Christopher Coye & Associates indicating that his name along with his companies Mayan King Ltd., Midsouth Investment Ltd., Belize Chemicals Ltd. and Crown Paradise Enterprises have been removed from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control list.
The release notes that the impact of the U.S. designation has been severe and has led to Zabaneh suffering heavy losses not only financial but his reputation. It notes further that now that Zabaneh’s name has been cleared up, he hopes that the business community and the Government will support the restart and restoration of his businesses in the South.
A letter signed by Gregory Gatjanis, Associate Director of the Officer of Global Targeting in the Office of Foreign Assets Control notes and we quote “based on information presently in the possession of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), you and your companies…no longer meet the criteria for designation pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
The letter also informs that Zabaneh’s property have been unblocked and are permitted to engage in lawful transactions with U.S. persons.
We must note that along with Zabaneh, his nephew Dion Zabaneh and Corozal businessman Daniel Moreno were also included in the list. There is no update on their cases.