NEW YORK -- Panamanian authorities arrested Dino Delano Bouterse, the son of the president of Suriname, and turned him over to U.S. authorities to face charges that he conspired to import cocaine into the United States, according to Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Derek Maltz, Special-Agent-in-Charge of the Special Operations Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”).
Bouterse was arraigned in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV on Friday.
Bouterse's father, Dési Bouterse, is a former army officer and military dictator who was elected to office in 2010. After a 1980 coup, Lt. Colonel Bouterse had ruled Suriname behind a series of puppet Presidents until a new constitution was passed and democracy restored in 1990.
“As alleged, Dino Bouterse conspired to send cocaine to the United States in a suitcase, and brandished a destructive weapon during the act," said Bharara. "With his arrest, this Office continues to make sure that those who attempt to transport drugs into our country are apprehended and brought to justice, no matter where they live.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment, Bouterse conspired to import cocaine into the United States. As part of this conspiracy, Bouterse caused a suitcase containing 10 kilograms of cocaine to be transported out of Suriname aboard a commercial flight, and in the course of engaging in the drug transaction possessed an anti-tank weapon.
Edmund Quincy Muntslag, who is also charged in the Indictment, was separately arrested yesterday in Trinidad and Tobago.
The indictment charges Bouterse, 40, of Paramaribo, Suriname, in two counts. Count One charges Bouterse with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. Count Two charges Bouterse with carrying a firearm or destructive device during and in relation to a drug-trafficking crime. Counts One and Two each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
“Bouterse is a significant drug trafficker who allegedly possessed dangerous weapons," said DEA Special-Agent-in-Charge Derek Maltz. "Bouterse has a history of drug and weapons trafficking, having been convicted of similar charges in his home country of Suriname in 2005. Thanks to our vast network of law enforcement and informants around the world, DEA and our partners disrupted this drug trafficking conspiracy and he and Muntslag will now face justice here in the United States.”
Bouterse, who was head of Suriname's anti-terrorism unit, was arrested at Panama City international airport while travelling on a diplomatic passport. He had been sentenced to eight years in prison in Suriname in 2005, after being found guilty of trafficking in drugs, weapons and stolen luxury cars, but only served 3 years. His father named him head of Suriname's anti-terrorism unit.
Muntslag, 29, of Suriname, is charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s Special Operations Division and thanked the DEA’s Panama City Country Office, the DEA’s Port of Spain Country Office, the Government of the Republic of Panama, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Y. Kim, Michael D. Lockard, and Adam Fee are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
In 2000, Dino Bouterse's father, President Desi Bouterse, was himself convicted in absentia of drug trafficking by a court in the Netherlands. He has always denied the charges.
Wikileaks cables released in 2011 reveal that the elder Bouterse was involved in drug-trafficking until atleast 2006. The cables report the connection between Bouterse and top Guyanese criminals Roger Khan and Eduardo Beltran. Khan was believed to help Bouterse's financial situation by giving him the means to supplement his income through narcotics trafficking. According to the cables Bouterse met Roger Khan several times in Nickerie at the house of MP Rashied Doekhi, who is a prominent member of Bouterse's political party. The cables also report that Bouterse and Khan were plotting to assassinate then minister of Justice Chan Santokhi and attorney general Subhaas Punwasi.
Khan who is known as the Guyanese Pablo Escobar and is believed responsible for almost 200 murders in Guyana was arrested in Paramaribo in June 2006 in a sting operation by the Surinamese police. By order of then Minister of Justice Chan Santokhi, Khan was deported to the United States of America where he was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment on charges of smuggling large amounts of cocaine into the United States of America, witness tampering and illegal possession of firearms. Click here to read the Dino Bouterse US Indictment
Click here to read the Wikileaks Cables Linking Father President Desi Bouterse to Drug Trafficking