Jaime Rosenthal, a Honduran banking magnate and crocodile farmer, is facing the unintended consequences of a US treasury asset freeze over his alleged ties to Latin American drug cartels: his 10,000 crocodiles are beginning to starve.
The thousands of reptiles at Cocodrilos Continental, Rosenthal's 70 acre property in San Manuel near the city of San Pedro Sula, have begun to starve as workers strike over unpaid wages.
"The crocodiles and lions are dying of hunger, and we are too because we haven't been paid the last two weeks," one of the workers told AFP. "Forty animals have already died. They were taken away in boxes by trucks to be buried."
Conservation officials in Honduras said although the state had stepped in and delivered 3,000lb of chicken, workers refused to feed them. There were also doubts that the amount of food was sufficient.
"The 3,000 pounds doesn't amount to much because a crocodile eats the equivalent of half a horse in a day," the worker said. "But at least something is being done."
On 7 October, 79-year-old Rosenthal, the son of a Romanian-Jewish émigré to Honduras, was declared by the US Treasury to be a known drug trafficker.
The Honduran elite were stunned that one of their own, a one-time possible president who met with former US president Ronald Regan at the White House, was being sanctioned by the US government.
The magnate now faces major restrictions from the US Treasury. The US has placed sanctions on the family company, Inversiones Continental, which controls Rosenthal's banking, financial services, property, agriculture and construction interests as well as many others and three offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.