Dino Bouterse, the son of Suriname’s president, was sentenced to 16 years in a US prison for helping the terrorist Hezbollah group, among other charges.Dino Bouterse, son of the president of the Republic of Suriname, was sentenced to 16 years and 3 months in prison in the United States for attempting to assist Hezbollah, an Islamic terror organization, in addition to other charges. Bouterse was leading a counterterrorism unit when he offered to allow US agents disguised as Hezbollah members to establish terrorist camps in his country in return for $2 million.
Bouterse was arrested in a 2013 sting operation in Panama by the Drug Enforcement Administration while trying to smuggle five kilograms of cocaine, guns and a rocket launcher into the US. He also offered to use his position as head of counterterrorism in Suriname to allow Hezbollah to establish a training base for 30-60 of its members, and to consider providing heavy weaponry to the terrorist organization. Assistant US Attorney Michael Lockard noted during the trial that Suriname’s multiculturalism would allow terrorists to hide easily there.
The US government originally sought a 30-year sentence, but Judge Shira Scheindlin sentenced him to just over 16 years. During sentencing, Bouterse pleaded for leniency, saying he was “deeply ashamed” and that Suriname is a “country with no place for religious extremists.” He added that his 11 children, aged 2 to 19, need their father.
“Dino Bouterse was supposed to oppose terrorism. Instead, Bouterse betrayed his official position and tried to support and aid Hezbollah, including his agreement to assist Hezbollah in acquiring weapons and conspiring to import cocaine to the US,” Manhattan attorney Preet Bharara said after sentencing.
Hezbollah Profits from International Drug Trade
Hezbollah receives a large share of its funding from the international drug trade. In addition to profiting from marijuana farms in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, the terrorist organization has been implicated in the heroin trade in Asia’s Golden Triangle and in the cocaine trade in South America. For example, Hezbollah received 12 percent of the profits of an international cocaine trading and money laundering ring in Colombia that was broken up in 2008.
Bouterse’s father, Suriname President Desi Bouterse, was convicted in absentia by the Netherlands of smuggling over 1,000 pounds of cocaine into that country. He became the leader of Suriname in 1980 after a coup, stepping down in 1987 to regain power in another coup in 1991. He was elected president in 2010 while on trial for the murder of 15 political opponents in 1982. The trial was adjourned after his government passed an amnesty law.
By: Lauren Calin