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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid