Dino Bouterse faces 30-year prison term
If the Federal Judge takes the position of the US Prosecution, Surinamese and Caricom National Dino Bouterse could face 30 years to life in prison for Terrorism and Narcotics among charges in the United States. Bouterse, the son of the President of Suriname Desi Bouterse is to face a Sentencing Judge in a Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday. The younger Bouterse admitted to a guilty plea in a plea bargain arrangement last year.
He was arrested in Panama and flown to New York to face charges that he and a co-conspirator Edmund Muntslag were trying to ship cocaine into the United States through another CARICOM State Trinidad and Tobago where the co-conspirator was arrested. Bouterse also was charged with aiding the Hezbollah group which the US has labeled a Terrorist organization. Bouterse provided the Court with over forty testimonials about his character from various individuals ranging from his gardener, girlfriends, mother of his children, other family and friends, workers, the Cabinet’s Director of National Security and two officials from the Office of the President of Suriname. There was no testimonial from President Desi Bouterse himself, his dad who faced similar drug charges years ago in the Netherlands that several in Suriname feel were politically inspired.
One of the Testimonials mentioned Bouterse’s love for Sport that took him to Guyana to watch his son participate in the Inter Guiana Games in 2011. That was the only reference to Guyana in the entire case that highlighted the US pursuit of what they called a Government official in the neighboring country. When he is sentenced Bouterse will be one of the first Caricom Government connected officials to be convicted and sentenced for drugs in the United States in recent time. Guyana’s Roger Khan who was arrested in Suriname and sentenced to 15 years for narcotics trafficking claimed direct connections to the Guyana Government.
The current Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy a US Citizen signed a document used by Khan to obtain eavesdropping equipment in what Ramsammy claimed was an effort on behalf of the Government of Guyana to fight crime. The US says Khan used it to expand his drug empire. Another Guyanese Ed Ahmad is facing time after he pleaded guilty to Mortgage fraud he claimed in court documents that he is a close friend of former President of Guyana, Bharat Jagdeo. An opposition MP Abdul Kadir is serving time in the US for a failed conspiracy to blow up fuel tanks at the JFK airport. Bouterse’s defence attorney is saying that many of the things claimed by the prosecution are not true including being a government official at the time of the incident.
Bouterse was arrested after he traveled to Panama in 2013 to provide Surinamese passports to two undercover operatives. He facilitated the movement of ten kilos of cocaine via a commercial airliner into Trinidad and Tobago. The mandatory minimum sentence in his case is 15 years. Bouterse will be deported after serving any sentence handed down.