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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 7, 2015

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition Of South American Drug Trafficker On Drug Importation Conspiracy Charge

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Mark Hamlet, the Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), today announced the extradition of EDMUND QUINCY MUNTSLAG, a citizen of Suriname, who is charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.  MUNTSLAG’s co-defendant, Dino Bouterse, a citizen of Suriname who held himself out as Commander of that country’s Counter-Terrorism Unit, previously pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to participating in the cocaine importation conspiracy as well as to attempting to provide material support and resources to Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization, and a firearms offense.  MUNTSLAG was arrested in Trinidad & Tobago on August 29, 2013, at the request of the United States.  He arrived in the Southern District of New York last night, and was presented today before Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.  The case is assigned to United States District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Now that Edmund Quincy Muntslag has arrived in the Southern District of New York, he can be held accountable for his alleged role in conspiring to import massive quantities of cocaine from Suriname to the United States.  Today’s extradition is the result of the continued collaboration between our office, the DEA and our international law enforcement partners.”

DEA Special Operations Division Special Agent in Charge Mark Hamlet said: “Critical to strengthening our national security are efforts such as DEA‘s successful pursuit of global criminals like Edmund Muntslag and dangerous facilitators of terror such as Dino Bouterse.  The frightening connection between drug trafficking and terror across the world is clearly illustrated in this successful case.  This could not have been done without our strong foreign partnerships, and DEA is extremely pleased that Muntslag has been extradited to face justice in a U.S. court.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court[1]:

 In June 2013, MUNTSLAG and Bouterse met in Suriname with confidential sources working with the DEA (the “CSes”), in a local government office.  During the meeting, Bouterse showed the CSes a rocket launcher and a kilogram of cocaine.  According to MUNTSLAG, the cocaine had been treated to evade detection by drug-sniffing dogs.

Approximately one month later, MUNTSLAG and Bouterse worked together to provide transportation and security for cocaine being sent through Suriname to the United States.  As a test run, MUNTSLAG and Bouterse sent ten kilograms of cocaine on a commercial flight departing from Suriname.  MUNTSLAG personally oversaw the arrangements for the 10-kilogram cocaine shipment, and confirmed its departure from Suriname via text message.  The cocaine was intercepted by law enforcement officials after it departed Suriname.

In July 2013, Bouterse met in Suriname with one of the CSes to discuss opening Suriname to the CSes’ purported Hezbollah associates.  Later that month, Bouterse met in Greece with the same CS and two other men who purported to be associated with Hezbollah.  During this meeting, Bouterse discussed initially hosting 30 to 60 Hezbollah members in Suriname for training and operations.  He also indicated that he wanted a Hezbollah cell in Suriname, in part, to act as a kind of personal armed force.  Immediately after the conclusion of the meeting in Europe, Bouterse sent MUNTSLAG a text message stating “we hit the jackpot.”

At a subsequent meeting in August 2013 in Panama, Bouterse delivered a Surinamese passport with false identifying information to one of the CSes.  As had been discussed at the July 2013 meeting in Greece, one of the purported Hezbollah operatives was to use the fraudulent passport to travel to Suriname.  At the August 2013 meeting, Bouterse indicated that everything was ready in Suriname for the arrival of the purported Hezbollah members, and that some “toys,” or weapons, would be available for inspection.  Bouterse also discussed receiving $2 million in cash in exchange for giving the purported Hezbollah operatives arms and access to Suriname, and asked the CSes to have the cash delivered to MUNTSLAG in Trinidad & Tobago.  At that time, MUNTSLAG was waiting in Trinidad & Tobago to receive the cash, which he planned to transport back to Suriname to deliver to Bouterse.  Shortly after the August 2013 meeting, MUNTSLAG was arrested in Trinidad & Tobago.

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The Indictment charges MUNTSLAG with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and to distribute cocaine, knowing and intending that it would be imported to the United States.

If convicted, MUNTSLAG faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison.The maximum and mandatory minimum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence will be determined by the judge.

On August 29, 2014, Bouterse pleaded guilty to the narcotics importation conspiracy with which MUNTSLAG is charged as well as attempting to provide material support to Hezbollah, a Foreign Terrorist Organization; and using and carrying, or aiding and abetting the use and carrying of, a firearm, during and in relation to a drug-trafficking crime.On March 10, 2015, Judge Scheindlin sentenced Bouterse to 195 months’ imprisonment on all counts.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the Special Operations Division of the DEA. Mr. Bharara also thanked the DEA’s Miami Field Division, Panama City Country Office, Port-of-Spain Country Office, and Bogota Country Office; the Government of the Republic of Panama; the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and its National Security Division.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.Assistant United States Attorneys Adam Fee and Michael D. Lockard are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Press Release Number: 
211
Updated August 10, 2015