Son of Suriname’s President Dino Bouterse sentenced to 16 years in US prison

Dino Bouterse

[] – The son of Suriname’s president was sentenced on Tuesday to 16-1/4 years in prison, after pleading guilty last August to U.S. charges that he tried to offer a home base to the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah.

Dino Bouterse, 42, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge ShiraScheindlin in Manhattan. Bouterse had also admitted to drug trafficking and firearms charges.

U.S. prosecutors had urged that Bouterse spend 30 years to life in prison.

“In 2013, I knowingly provided a false Surinamese passport to a person I believed to be associated with Hezbollah, an organization I knew to be designated a terrorist organization by the United States,” Bouterse said at a court hearing last year.

The defendant also pleaded guilty to conspiring to import narcotics and carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.

Bouterse was arrested in 2013 in Panama and subsequently extradited to the United States on charges that he conspired to smuggle cocaine to the U.S.

Instead of the anti-tank launcher named in the indictment, as part of a plea deal, Bouterse admits that he was brandishing a handgun when he showed persons, who later appeared to be undercover agents, a quantity of cocaine in his office in Paramaribo.

Judge ShiraScheindlin had warned in August that if a terrorism enhancement applies to Bouterse’scase, his minimum sentence could double from 15 years to 30 years behind bars.

The undercover operation to trap the defendant took about nine months. Documents indicate that Bouterse was approached by two confidential informants of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who claimed to have ties with the Mexican drug organization, who were looking to put up shop in Suriname.

Edmund Muntslag, a co-defendant, was arrested in Trinidad and Tobago at the same time, and is currently fighting a court battle there to prevent his extradition to the U.S. [Extracted and edited from Reuters]