AUSTIN, Texas — Suriname, a tiny country on the northeast Atlantic coast of South America, just north of Brazil, has gained notoriety in global anti-terrorism circles in recent years, as new evidence continues to be revealed about the depths of corruption at the top levels of their government.
In the latest development, Dino Bouterse, the son of the Suriname President, was arrested last month in Panama and just pled guilty in a United States federal court to drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and terrorism charges. Bouterse served as the head of Suriname’s counterterrorism unit, and as part of his plea deal, admitted that he offered assistance to undercover American agents who were pretending to be members of Hezbollah, the militant terrorist group based in Lebanon. The agents had told Bouterse that they were seeking to begin operations in Suriname, and he agreed to help them establish fake identities, even providing one operative a fake Surinamese passport. For two million dollars, He also agreed to help them obtain weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, that would be used in attacks on the United States and the Netherlands.
The drug charges and additional weapons charges arose from Bouterse’s promise to undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, who be believed to be representing a Mexican drug trafficking cartel, that he could help them smuggle drugs and obtain weapons in Suriname.
Bouterse is following in his father’s footsteps, as President Desi Bouterse has been implicated in similar international criminal plots. In 2000, President Bouterse was convicted in absentia by a Netherlands court of drug trafficking, and he is wanted for drug trafficking charges in France, as well as allegedly being connected to a criminal network that traded weapons for cocaine with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), a Marxist-Leninist militarized criminal network that has been involved in drug production and trafficking, extortion, kidnap for ransom, and other criminal activities in Columbia since the 1960s.
His father, President Desi Bouterse, has also been implicated in numerous criminal activities and was convicted in absentia of drug trafficking by a Netherlands court in 2000. He is currently wanted for drug trafficking in France, and last year the DEA stated there was “hard evidence” that Desi Bouterse had ties to convicted Guyanese drug trafficker Shaheed “Roger” Khan. The President has also been implicated in a criminal network that exchanged weapons for cocaine with FARC.
The criminal activities of the Bouterse family give credibility to American concerns about Islamic terrorists gaining a foothold in Latin America. Breitbart Texas Contributing Editor and border security expert Sylvia Longmire noted that while Suriname seemed “like a world away,” it was important to remember that the fundraising networks for drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, money laundering, and terrorism were global and reached “far and wide in the Western Hemisphere.”
“It’s important to note that in this investigation and related operations, no actual members of Hezbollah were involved,” Longmire added. “However, members of Hezbollah have a significant presence in South America and raise a considerable amount of money to send back to Lebanon to fund terrorist operations. While Mexican drug cartels aren’t involved in the terrorism aspect of Bouterse’s deals — and likely wouldn’t be — this is yet another excellent example of how these networks overlap and often run through the same people.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.