Suriname Accuses U.S. In Military-Drug Arrest
MIAMI (AP) _ Suriname has accused U.S. intelligence agencies of trapping one of its top military officials in a drug smuggling conspiracy as part of an effort to destabilize the South American country.
Army Capt. Etienne Boerenveen, accused of offering safe passage and military protection to drug smugglers for $1 million per trip, was denied bail during a hearing Wednesday.
Boerenveen, 28, was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents Monday along with two of his countrymen after they were secretly filmed making the deal, authorities said.
Suriname protested Wednesday that Boerenveen, the secretary of the military’s political organization and one of five leaders of the military, was protected by diplomatic immunity and was the victim of a plot.
The developments ″point toward an action by North American intelligence services against the regime in our country,″ the official Suriname News Agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.
The Foreign Ministry said the case could seriously impair relations with the United States.
″The involvement of the secret agents and the North American intelligence services ... point in the direction of an attempt by the U.S. government to destabilize the regime in Suriname and isolate it internationally,″ the statement said.
The statement issued from the capital city Paramaribo said Boerenveen was traveling on a diplomatic passport and had gone to Miami for a vacation.
The news agency also said his attache case had been stolen Wednesday from a consulate staff car in Miami in ″a very professional manner.″
At Boerenveen’s bond hearing, his attorney Philip Gerson told U.S. Magistrate Samuel Smargon he was seeking diplomatic immunity for his client and would file a motion to dismiss the drug conspiracy charges.
Smargon said he would rule quickly on the diplomatic immunity question but set no date.
Meanwhile, Boerenveen’s co-defendants - Ricardo Heymans, 34, and Heymans’ father, Cilvion, 65 - were to appear today at a bond hearing.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the three defendants watched a 15-minute videotape of a conversation they had last week with two undercover DEA agents on a yacht docked at a hotel.
The conversation concerned arrangements for the landing of airplanes in Paramaribo and provisions needed to ensure ″a safe haven for a mother ship″ carrying illegal drugs, prosecutors said.
There also were conversations about shipments of ether to be used in a cocaine processing laboratory, the government said.
Boerenveen and the Heymanses have been charged with conspiracy to import and distribute drugs into the United States, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence and $100,000 fine, and violations of the Travel Act, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The Travel Act forbids interstate or foreign travel or use of a communication facility, including airlines, in aid of racketeering.
The younger Heymans is a local sales manager for government-owned Suriname Airways, which flies twice a week between Miami and Paramaribo.
Suriname, a Georgia-sized country on the northeast coast of South America, is a former Dutch colony ruled by a five-member Supreme Council and has a population of about 400,000.