Prosecutor Wants Four Held Without Bail in Drug Conspiracy Case
MIAMI (AP) _ Federal prosecutors on Tuesday asked that a Surinamese army leader and two others be held without bail on charges of offering their country as a haven for cocaine smugglers heading for the United States.
Surinamese Army Capt. Etienne Boerenveen, 28, Ricardo Heymans, 24, and Heymans’ father, Cilvion, 65, were arrested Monday in Miami by undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents who posed as smugglers interested in the offer.
In addition to offering safe passage for cocaine smugglers at $1 million a load, Boerenveen also offered to provide land and security in Suriname for cocaine processing laboratories, DEA spokesman Frank Chellino said Monday.
U.S. Attorney William Norris told U.S. magistrate Samuel Smargon at a hearing Tuesday that the government wants the three held without bond pending trial.
Boerenveen’s attorney, Philip Gerson, said he would seek diplomatic immunity for his client. ″He is a member of the government,″ Gerson said.
A bond hearing was set for Wednesday morning.
Boerenveen, one of five leaders of Suriname’s military, is the secretary of the military’s political organization, the February 25 Movement. He also chairs several committees on economic reorganization within the revolutionary government, but is not a member of the five-member Supreme Council that heads the small South American nation.
In Suriname, the Supreme Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday and issued a statement calling Boerenveen’s arrest a violation of diplomatic procedure. The statement said Boerenveen was traveling on a diplomatic passport, and had gone to Miami for a vacation.
The statement said the Surinamese ambassador to the United States, Arnold Halfhide, had been ordered to request information about the arrest from the U.S. State Department.
Boerenveen and the Heymanses were videotaped in a Miami hotel room last Friday as they struck a deal with the undercover agents, officials said.
The younger Heymans is area sales manager for government-owned Suriname Airways, which flies between Miami and the Surinamese capital of Paramaribo twice a week.
All three were taken into custody as they stepped off a yacht, secretly supplied by the DEA, where they met with the agents, Chellino said.
The case ″basically involves these individuals stating that they would provide safe haven for drug-laden planes and vessels to refuel and transship through Suriname en route to the United States from other South American countries,″ he said.
Boerenveen told undercover agents he ″spoke for the highest levels of the government,″ Chellino said.
Boerenveen was the ″main man″ in the scheme, Chellino said.
Boerenveen and the Heymanses were 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, Chellino said.
The Travel Act forbids interstate or foreign travel or use of a communication facility, including airlines, in aid of racketeering.
Suriname, which is roughly the size of the state of Georgia, sits on the northeast coast of South America and has a population of 400,000.