Counter-Terrorism: Hezbollah Takes A Hit In Panama

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April 18, 2015: An American court recently sentenced Dino Bouterse, a counterterrorism official from the South American country of Suriname (on the northern border of Brazil) to 16 years and three months in prison for offering to allow Lebanese Islamic terror group Hezbollah to operate in Suriname for a $2 million bribe. Bouterse was arrested in Panama and confessed because his Hezbollah contacts were actually American DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) operatives following up on reports that Suriname officials were willing to take bribes to allow drug gangs to operate freely in Suriname. The DEA agents presented themselves to Bouterse as being from Hezbollah and asked what it would cost to get sanctuary in Suriname for drug and terrorism operations. Bouterse demanded an initial payment of $2 million followed by additional payments as needed, depending on how much heat Suriname might have to handle. Bouterse was well placed to deliver as his father is the president of Suriname. Bouterse was persuaded to travel to Panama to make the final arrangements, not realizing the Panama cooperates with the DEA in arresting and extraditing drug criminals the DEA has lots of evidence on. The DEA already had plenty of evidence and when Bouterse saw it he confessed. The American prosecutor wanted a life sentence for Bouterse, to send a message to other foreign officials who seek to make deals with drug gangs and Islamic terrorists. But the judge though a life term was unfair because Bouterse did not seek out Islamic terrorists or drug gangs for such deals, he simply succumbed to temptation. 

The DEA is often involved in taking down arms smugglers and Islamic terrorists because the DEA has agents all over the world operating against drug smugglers. The DEA has an international network of agents and experience in running stings like this. The smuggling gangs often deal it all sorts of contraband and Islamic terrorists, especially Hezbollah, have long used drug production, smuggling and distribution as a way to make money. Iran, for example, use contacts in these gangs to seek out weapons and military equipment international sanctions prevent Iran from importing legally. It’s often difficult to insert an agent from another agency (like the CIA or FBI) when a DEA operative comes across a likely suspect, so it’s customary to let the DEA agent run with it until the arrests are made.

 

 

 


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