News / Africa

US Accuses Guinea-Bissau Military Officers of Drug Trafficking

Two top officers are named as major players in cocaine shipment from Latin America to Guinea-Bissau

The U.S. Treasury Department has accused Guinea-Bissau's Air Force Chief of Staff Ibraima Papa Camara and former Navy Chief of Staff Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto of helping bring in a huge shipment of cocaine from Venezuela in 2008.

The charges mean that U.S. citizens are now banned from doing business with either man and any U.S. assets they hold will be frozen. The head of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, Adam Szubin, said the moves deter them from profiting from the narcotics trade and engaging in "destabilizing activities."

Former Navy Chief Na Tchuto played a role in last week's ouster of Army Chief Zamora Induta and the brief arrest of Carlos Gomes Jr., Guinea-Bissau's prime minister. Na Tchuto fled to Gambia when he was accused of leading a coup attempt in 2008. Last year, he secretly returned to Guinea-Bissau and sought refuge at the local United Nations headquarters. He emerged from that compound last Thursday alongside Deputy Army Chief Antonio Indjai after soldiers seized Army Chief Induta, who had pressed for Na Tchuto's prosecution.

Na Tchuto denied the allegations on Friday and said that he will cooperate with the United States government. He also said the charges of drug trafficking do not make sense because he was in Portugal on June 29, 2008 when the cocaine shipment from Venezuela arrived.  Na Tchuto said he did not return to Guinea-Bissau until July.

Na Tchuto also pointed out that he was not arrested by Interpol when he was in Gambia or while staying at the U.N. compound in Bissau. Since he was not taken into custody, Na Chuto says this shows he is not guilty.  Interpol is aware that he could have been dismissed as Navy chief of staff were he guilty, added Na Chuto.  But he remained in his post which he said means he had nothing to do with illegal drug trafficking.

Remote airstrips on islands off the coast of Guinea-Bissau are used by Latin American drug gangs as a transit point for cocaine headed for Europe.  

The Commission for Political Affairs at the Economic Community of West African States Mahamane Toure says the drug trade has hurt security in Guinea-Bissau.  

"The police, the justice system, and the prison system with the threat of the drugs have been almost reduced to nil," said Toure.  He adds, "They don't have any capacity to have vehicles, telecommunications systems, to be organized and trained to at least tackle the issue of the drug barons."

Reforming security services in Guinea-Bissau is complicated by the presence of veterans who fought against Portuguese colonialism 36 years ago and are unwilling to retire because a small military pension would leave them in poverty. The President of the United Nations Security Council Yukio Takasu says the international community needs to rethink its strategy toward Guinea-Bissau.

"Are we really on the right track or not? It's easy to say that security sector reform is key for the success of peace building," said Takasu. "But what do we mean by security sector reform? How many people should stay in the military, how they should be paid, how they should retire? Those are important things. Without this clear strategy, it's not just enough to say that this is important."

The Foreign Minister of Senegal, Madike Niang, adds that narco-traffickers pose a real threat to  Guinea-Bissau and the surrounding region.  With a disorganized army and a fragile state, Niang says the international community must step in to help stabilize Guinea-Bissau.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid