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Feds Thwart Plot To Topple Government of Suriname

July 29, 1986 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The arrests of 14 people accused of planning to overthrow the government of Suriname mark the third time in five years officials have foiled alleged New Orleans-based plots to topple foreign leaders.

″Obviously, this is a hub,″ said U.S. Attorney John Volz. ″It’s a central point, a jumping off point to South America and Central America.″

Robert Grimes, regional commissioner of U.S. Customs here, said Tommy Lynn Denley, 45, of Grenada, Miss., was the leader of a band of mercenaries who planned to pose as financiers.

According to documents, they apparently planned to take Suriname’s president, Lt. Col. Desi Bouterse, hostage. Bouterse came to power in a military coup in February 1980.

Suriname is one of three small countries east of Venezuela on the northern coast of South America. Formerly called Dutch Guiana, it won independence from The Netherlands in 1975.

Denley, a former U.S. Customs patrol officer and Panama Canal Zone police officer, was arrested Monday in suburban Kenner. He was on his way to the Hammond airport, where a plane was waiting to take him to Suriname, Grimes said.

All 14 people were being held on charges of violating the U.S. Neutrality Act, which deals with armed overthrow of a foreign government.

A wiretap affadavit made public Monday said Denley, as president of a company named Tango Lima Delta Inc., was contracted for the coup by a Dutch company identified as the Ansus Foundation of Amsterdam. Its president was identified as George Baker.

Baker’s associates in Amsterdam said he was unavailable.

The wiretap affidavit said Denley showed an undercover agent a contract to receive 1.5 billion Dutch guilders in return for turning over the Surinamese government to the Ansus Foundation.

Denley contended the Dutch government and several U.S. senators had approached him about arranging the coup, according to the document. The senators were not named.

The mercenaries, from various parts of the United States, planned to join an army of Central American Indians in the coup attempt, Grimes said. He said Denley promised 12 of the others would be paid $1 million if successful.

Customs and FBI agents infiltrated the group after receiving a tip in May, he said.

The plans called for three combat teams led by former U.S. Navy SEALS and armed with U.S. M-60 and Israeli Uzi machine guns to pull off the coup, authorities said.

Those arrested Monday in Hammond were identified as: John Ambielli, 40, of Lafayette, La., Homer Phillips Jr., 31, of Harrisburg, Mo.; Michael Johnson, 18, of New Orleans and his mother, Barbara, 45; Hector Tellez, 31, of Oak Forest, Ill.; Jamie Bright, 30, of Marion, Ohio; Don Morton, 46, of Colby, Kan.; Fred L. Rich, 41, of Columbia, Mo.; Vanus Livingston, 56, of Sugar Tree, Tenn.; Steven Green, 25, of Evansville, Ind.; Raymond Livingston, 25, of Jefferson, La.; Roger McGrady, 36, of Sacramento, Calif.; and Daniel Lee Marchand, 29, of Tennyson, Ind.

In 1981 the plans of a group of white supremacists to overthrow the government of Dominica were thwarted when FBI agents arrested them at a lakeshore marina.

In 1984, 13 men, most of then Haitian citizens, were arrested in a motel in Slidell, where they were meeting to plan an invasion of Haiti.