A businessman in Belize has been designated a key associate of a Mexican drug cartel, the U.S. Treasury Department said Tuesday.
The action freezes any assets John Zabaneh and his companies have in the United States and bars U.S. citizens or residents from doing business with him, officials said.
"John Zabaneh's drug trafficking activities and his organization's ties to Colombian sources of supply and Mexican buyers make him a critical figure in the narcotics trade," said Adam J. Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. "By designating Zabaneh, OFAC is disrupting those activities and continuing its efforts, alongside those of our law enforcement partners, to expose operatives of Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel, including their businesses."
The action includes Dion Zabaneh, Zabaneh's nephew, a close associate, Daniel Moreno, and four companies owned by Zabaneh and a supermarket chain owned by Moreno. Zabaneh's companies include a banana farm, a building contractor, a resort management company and a pharmaceutical firm.