Now that the news is sinking in about John Zabaneh and the potential negative consequences of being blacklisted by OFAC, people are coming to his defense saying that he has done so much for his community and Belize as a whole by creating jobs and providing community support. It is a consideration…maybe. What is the cost of these jobs and money generated by his portion of the banana industry? Can we honestly say it’s worth it to be a part of a world wide drug war to have a couple hundred jobs? Do we care that many families are affected by drug trafficking in ways we can’t begin to fathom just so we can have a few jobs that people are saying is mostly worked by illegal aliens anyway? What are the real life consequences we can expect or is it much ado about nothing and we will see business as usual in a hotttt minute?
Ok so the Sinaloa Cartel is reputed to be Mexico‘s oldest and most powerful criminal organization while the Zetas are newer, decidedly more vicious and determined to take over the territory once comfortably held by the Sinaloas. The Zetas once served as the muscle for another cartel, the Gulf but they broke off because they wanted a bigger piece of the pie…what pie you ask? Oh just that area along the Gulfcoast of Mexico which extends into CENTRAL AMERICA…or what just happens to be our country of Belize. The irony is that many of the members of the Zetas are ex military once charged with protecting the people they now terrorize. Members include deserters of Mexico’s elite airborne special services and Guatemala‘s Kaibiles, a special unit trained by the US. Yes, I said the US. The other members come from the Sinaloa Cartel itself, former members of the Beltran Leyvas, an affiliate of the Sinaloa Cartel. These members believed that Guzman, Sinaloan head honcho, ratted out their top commander Alfredo Beltran Leyvas and his successor Arturo Beltran Leyvas.
Now we have the perfect recipe for extreme cruelty and mayhem: military training, desire and greed for more territory and an intense need for revenge. Before the Zetas entered the picture, the Sinaloa Cartel kept things calm. They had a place in society and were reluctant to stir things up as it were. They were unwilling to attract attention to their criminal activity. The Zetas? They don’t care so much. They make grand statements of intent making their presence firmly felt with very aggressive acts such as beheadings and multiple massacres, often piling up the bodies in central plazas. Since they have entered the drug business, murders have quadrupled. Yes, that’s 4x more than before. And the problem is they don’t care who they kill. Often, innocent people are caught up in the fracas. Anyone who is suspected to be of the Sinaloa Cartel or if you happen to be related to one of its associates, you are fair game for attack in this bid for control of territory, which brings me to my point: Now that these business men, John Zabaneh, Dion Zabaneh and Daniel Moreno have been identified by the US as associates of Sinaloa Cartel, have they been marked with a big bulls eye on their backs? What about their families? Will the Zetas see a point of weakness and attempt to infiltrate and make this territory theirs? One of their favourite tactics used to announce their presence is kidnapping. Who wants to live with that constant fear that you will just be scooped up and used as a pawn in someone else’s game? And these days? They done gone hi-tech. The threats are often sent via email. Wow.
We, as a nation, have been playing with fire for over 30 years. Is it time that we collectively get burned? I better start seeing an increased US military presence in that case ’cause ahm…they kinda got us into this mess………alright, alright! People like the Zabanehs did but the US revealing their names to world and most importantly, the Zeta/Sinaloa world, made our tiny, under-defended, under- prepared nation a giant berry ripe for the pickin’.
In light of the US blacklisting three Belizean business men, John Zabaneh, Dion Zabaneh and Daniel Moreno, I just have to ask this question: Are we really ready for a sweep? We all say we are tired of the crime and dead bodies piling up. We are afraid to sleep easy lest someone breaks into our houses and harms our children. We bemoan the sad fact that it has become common place for bullets to graze our heads in drive bys or in our case, “bicycle bys”. It is very clear that the cartels are setting up shop in our tiny, very strategically placed country. Many of our friends and neighbours have gone from living in wooden shacks to owning concrete monstrosities cause hey, let’s face it, just cause you have money don’t mean you got style. (smirk) But sarcasm aside, we congratulate them, perhaps even envy their good luck and admire their ability to evade justice. We, as a society, have accepted this lifestyle and even appear to condone it as we turn a blind eye and point to them as examples of success. We wash their blood money clean as we take their generous donations in our churches and schools “for the children”.
Here’s the thing. This drug culture has infiltrated every facet our existence. It’s the obvious hustler on the street, the walking dead strung out on crack…but they aren’t the real problem are they? The problem is the customs officer who looks the other way, pocketing a few hundred dollars. It is the police “losing evidence”. It is the minister shaking hands over business deals to launder millions. It is the mother practically selling her daughter for bags of groceries and jobs for her sons. What are we going to do when all this is revealed and our “benefactors” are faced with a list of criminal charges as long as the Litany? Are we strong enough to turn from temptation of material wealth, new found prestige and status in order to clean up our communities? Who is going to step up to change the future of our country from being known as the “asshole of the world”?
Given that so many of us have our hands in the cookie jar, I don’t think the queue will be very long. But then again….maybe we wont get a choice. Big Brother is waving his big stick….and we about tah get a smack down.
So, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is declaring that NO American can do business with five companies under the control of John Zabaneh and two of his associates, Dion Zabaneh (his nephew) and Daniel Moreno. These companies include: Mayan King Ltd.; Mid-South Investments Ltd.; Crown Paradise Enterprises Ltd.; Belize Chemicals Ltd.; and D’s Supermarket Company Ltd. Why? Because the DEA finally after hmmmmm 30 years got their shit together enough to prove that John Zabaneh is a prominent drug trafficker in Central America, especially Belize, with ties to Colombian and Mexican drug cartels namely the Sinaloa Cartel. The Sinaloa Cartel has been declared by the US Intelligence Community as THE most powerful drug organization in the world, making an estimated $3 billion a year in revenue and partly responsible for the 50,000 drug related deaths in Mexico since 2006.
So what now????? What does that mean for Belize? Our government? Who’s next on the list?????
Read the full story here: http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1674.aspx
For more on the Sinaloa Cartel, read: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/magazine/how-a-mexican-drug-cartel-makes-its-billions.html?pagewanted=all