Government Says Second-in-Command No Drug Smuggler
PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) _ The military government said Wednesday that Suriname’s second-in-command had been entrapped by U.S. officials and was innocent of drug smuggling charges.
Capt. Etienne Boerenveen, 28, was convicted Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court in Miami of conspiracy to import cocaine and travel to further the conspiracy. On Monday, Judge Sidney Aronovitz sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
Authorities said during the trial that Boerenveen had tried to charge U.S.-bound cocaine smugglers $1 million a load to dock safely in his South American nation.
A government statement Wednesday said Boerenveen ″has been the victim of a trap set for him.″ It added that ″the government of Suriname remains convinced of the innocence of Capt. Boererveen.″
It said his ″conviction and now the sentence were dictated not so much by the nature of the transaction Boerenveen is accused of but more by the fact that the United States is confronted with an enormous increase in the unlawful use of drugs.
″The recognition of the fact that this problem has gotten out of hand and can virtually not be controlled has, in the past year, led to an anti-drug campaign of almost unprecedented intensity, and particularly in the state of Florida,″ it said.
If the incident had occurred ″in another period in the United States,″ Capt. Boerenveen would not have been convicted,″ it added.
Boerenveen was a member of Suriname’s 18-member ruling military council, and U.S. prosecutors said he was the nation’s No. 2 leader.
Two other Surinamese also were sentenced Monday. Cilvion Heymans, 65, whom prosecutors called the broker in the deal, was given eight years in prison. His son, Ricardo Heymans, 34, who had been Miami sales manager of Suriname Airlines, was sentenced to a year and a day. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Norris called the younger Heymans’ role in the scheme ″minimal.″
Undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested the three on March 24 aboard a yacht in Biscayne Bay.