South American Official Jailed in Miami on Conspiracy Charges
MIAMI (AP) _ A top Surinamese military leader was in jail today on charges he offered cocaine smugglers military protection and a safe refueling haven in his small South American country for $1 million a load, authorities said.
Capt. Etienne Boerenveen, 28, was arrested Monday with two countrymen by undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents who posed as smugglers, said DEA spokesman Frank Chellino.
Boerenveen is one of five military leaders who run Suriname’s army. Since a 1980 coup, the country has been led by Cmdr. Desi Bouterse, head of the five- member Supreme Council, composed of both civilian and military leaders. Boerenveen has never been a member of the Supreme Council.
Boerenveen, the ″main man″ in the scheme, allegedly offered the use of Surinamese airstrips and harbors, and military protection for smugglers’ planes and ships, as well as land and security for cocaine labs, Chellino said.
The men said ″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.
There was no immediate comment from the government of Suriname.
Boerenveen, 28; Cilvion Heymans, 65; and Heymans’ 34-year-old son, Ricardo Heymans, an area sales manager for government-owned Suriname Airways, were being held without bond at Metropolitan Correctional Center, and were to appear before a federal magistrate today.
The three were arrested as they stepped off a yacht after the second of two meetings with agents, Chellino said. The craft was supplied by the DEA.
Chellino refused to say how the five-month investigation began or how it led to Boerenveen and the Heymans, who first met with DEA agents in a Miami hotel. That meeting was videotaped.
Boerenveen allegedly offered military protection to smugglers at the country’s commericial airstrip at the capital of Paramaribo or at an airstrip of the smugglers’ choice after an aerial survey by their pilots.
Military protection could have been ready within a week, the agents were allegedy told.
Chellino said the DEA doesn’t believe Suriname has yet been used as a drug shipment stopover.
Boerenveen and the Heymans were charged with conspiracy to import and distribute drugs into the United States and violations of the Travel Act, he said. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine; the other count is 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 in aid of racketeering.
Suriname, a Georgia-sized country on the northeast coast of South America, has a population of 400,000.