HomeNewsBriefUS Treasury Blacklists ‘Sinaloa Cartel Contact’ in Belize
BRIEF

US Treasury Blacklists ‘Sinaloa Cartel Contact’ in Belize

BELIZE / 8 AUG 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it was imposing new sanctions against a trio of alleged drug traffickers based in Belize, described as key associates for Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman, alias “El Chapo.”

According to the August 7 press release, the Sinaloa Cartel’s key contact in Belize is John Zabaneh, described as the intermediary between Colombian suppliers and Mexican buyers. The OFAC also blacklisted Zabaneh’s nephew and another associate, Daniel Moreno.

The US government will freeze the assets of five companies linked to Zabaneh, including a banana farm, a building contractor, a resort management business, a pharmaceuticals business, and a supermarket.

Zabaneh was involved in the drug trade in Central America since the 1980s, the press release states.

InSight Crime Analysis

The OFAC designation calls attention to Belize’s increased status as a country affected by organized crime and drug trafficking. Last year, the White House expanded its list of major illicit drug transit countries to include Belize for the first time, alongside El Salvador. The US State Department also warned earlier this year that Belize’s security situation was rapidly deteriorating. This is partly due to the usual suspects: geography (Belize is situated in Central America’s Northern Triangle and shares a 266 kilometer border with Guatemala), weak state institutions and rule of law. Belize had “no successful prosecutions related to large seizures of illicit drugs” in 2011, the US State Department observed. All of these factors have helped create a convenient locale for transnational crime to set up shop inside the country.

While there have been previous reports that Mexican Zetas gang have some presence in Belize’s ports and frontier region, the Treasury Department blacklist is one of the clearest indications yet that the Sinaloa Cartel have established contacts here. And as the LA Times points out, it is also suggestive that the US is ready and willing to target the Sinaloa Cartel’s key allies outside of Mexico, as part of the ongoing effort to up the pressure against Guzman’s organization.

The Sinaloa Cartel is not the only transnational criminal group to maintain contacts in Belize. Guatemalan drug trafficker Otoniel Turcios was arrested in the country in 2010. An alleged meth precursor chemical trafficker in the country reportedly works for the Zetas, as InSight Crime has previously reported.

A version of this article was previously published on the Pan-American Post.

---

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BELIZE / 2 JUN 2022

Since El Salvador's government began a campaign of mass arrests two months ago in a gang crackdown, fewer than 60…

COCAINE / 13 APR 2022

The arrest of yet another alleged Sinaloa Cartel emissary in Colombia has once again raised questions about the extent of…

FENTANYL / 21 JAN 2022

Chinese companies are turning to online sales to supply the fentanyl precursor market in Mexico. As a result, more criminal…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…