Here we go again: the headline says one thing, the actual text (if you read carefully enough) something else entirely. In the relentless effort to hype a Middle East terrorist connection to Latin American narco-traffic, the feds just scored a real coup. Dino Bouterse, the son of Suriname’s current president and former military dictator Desi Bouterse, was, on March 10 in New York City, sentenced in federal court to 16 years for attempting to provide material support to Hezbollah, along with narco-trafficking and firearms charges. Bouterse, who was arrested in Panama in 2013 and pled guilty, was an architect of Suriname’s Counter-Terrorism Unit.
“Dino Bouterse was supposed to oppose terrorism,” said US attorney Preet Bharara. “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. Today he has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term for those odious crimes.”
Note all the wiggle-words here. “Attempting to.” “Tried to.” And that “agreement to assist Hezbollah” wasn’t actually with Hezbollah, but with DEA agents posing as Hezbollah representatives! Even the better accounts, like that on Latin American Herald Tribune, bury the fact several paragraphs in that “Bouterse used his position within the government of Suriname to assist individuals he believed were members of Hezbollah, who informed Bouterse that they intended to conduct terrorist attacks against American interests.” (Emphasis added.) In exchange for a multi-million-dollar payment, Bouterse agreed to allow “purported Hezbollah operatives” to use Suriname as a base, and supplied a false Surinamese passport to a “purported Hezbollah operative.” It turns out those “purported Hezbollah operatives” were really “confidential sources working with the Drug Enforcement Administration.” The DEA infiltrators spun the whole conspiracy to import cocaine into the US to fund arms sales for terror attacks. Bouterse personally verified arrangements for one 10-kilo coke shipment in a text message. The cocaine was intercepted after it departed Suriname. Sounds to us like Bouterse was chiefly guilty of being gullible.
Meanwhile, the New York Post gripes that Bouterse only got 16 years, while prosecutors had asked for 30. Note that the Post is more aghast than the prosecutors themselves, who trumpeted the sentence as a victory. This is the Post‘s way of getting a few licks in at Judge Shira Scheindlin, who two years ago ordered an overhaul of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy (as the Post never fails to remind us).