The son of an infamous South American president whipped out a rocket-launcher while smuggling cocaine into the United States, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Dino Bouterse, 40, whose father Desi Bouterse was elected leader of Suriname in 2010, pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court.
The elder Bouterse is a former Surinamese dictator, a convicted drug trafficker himself and an accused murderer.
“Dino Bouterse conspired to send cocaine to the United States in a suitcase, and brandished a destructive weapon,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said of the son, who was arrested Thursday in Panama.
His court-appointed lawyer, Christopher Flood, put off a request for bail Friday and Bouterse was held after his arraignment.
Bouterse previously served time in Suriname for dealing cocaine, arms and stolen cars.
His father later appointed his son to head a new anti-terrorism unit, reports said.
The younger Bouterse conspired with an associate between December 2011 and August 2013 to import coke to the U.S., according to an indictment.
The pal made arrangements on July 25 at a Suriname airport to transport 22 pounds of the white stuff, the indictment says.
Two days later, Bouterse put a coke-stuffed suitcase onto a commercial flight “to the Caribbean,” according to the indictment.
It was unclear Friday the exact route the drugs took to reach the U.S. It was also unclear at what point Bouterse allegedly busted out the rocket-launcher.
“The defendant brandished firearms including a light-antitank weapon, which is a launcher containing a rocket, and pistols,” the indictment says.
Bouterse is charged with drug trafficking and using weapons to further the crime. He faces a maximum sentence of up to life in prison if convicted, authorities said.
The indictment says the defendants, as part of their multi-year scheme, distributed coke knowing it “would be imported into the United States from a place outside thereof, and into waters within a distance of 12 miles of the coast of the United States.”
Flood, Boutere’s lawyer, declined to comment on the case Friday.
Desi Bouterse, 62, was the military dictator of Suriname from 1980 to 1987 and has been accused of ordering his soldiers to execute 15 dissenters in 1982.
He was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands in 1999 of trafficking more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine and has reportedly been a wanted man in Europe.
But he has remained free in his own country.
The surprise arrest came at an awkward time for the elder Bouterse: Suriname is currently hosting an annual summit for South American leaders and the father was scheduled to deliver a speech Friday afternoon. Reports said it the speech was postponed.
“We were informed but for now I will concentrate on the UNASUR summit,” the president told Agence France-Presse.
Suriname, a small nation of under 600,000 people located on the Caribbean coast of South America, is a former Dutch colony.
“We don’t have information regarding that matter, and my ambassador is not in,” said Brian Dors, administrative officer at Suriname’s permanent mission in New York.
Bouterse was arrested by Panamanian authorities who turned him over to U.S. agents, authorities said. He was brought to Manhattan early Friday.
He was traveling on a diplomatic passport when he was busted, The Associated Press reported.
The associate, Edmund Quincy Muntslag, 29, nicknamed “Blue,” is charged with trafficking and also faces up to life in prison if convicted. He was arrested Thursday in Trinidad and Tobago.