Guinea Bissau Military Chief Indicted in Drug Scandal
The head of Guinea Bissau’s military was indicted for his role in a drugs-for-guns conspiracy that involved the Forzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (FARC), a paramilitary group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. The indictments were unsealed on April 18, according to a press release by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The indictments allege that Antonio Indjai, the head of Guinea Bissau’s military, used his official authority to store cocaine in West Africa for FARC, as well as sell weapons -- including surface-to-air missiles -- to the rebel group. The weapons Indjai conspired to sell to FARC were to be used against US soldiers and law enforcement, the press release alleged. Indjai is also accused of a conspiracy to import narcotics to the United States.
Indjai, along with alleged co-conspirators, in early 2012 contacted DEA informants who pretended to be FARC representatives and agreed to store cocaine shipments in storage facilities in return for a portion of the drugs, the indictments alleged. The cocaine would then be trafficked to the United States. Guinea Bissau government officials would be paid with cocaine profits, the indictments said.
Indjai also agreed to divert shipments of weapons bought for the Guinea Bissau military and sell them to FARC. Indjai was fully aware that US forces would be the target for the weapons at the time of the agreement, the press release said.
The indictments against Indjai come after the arrests of others involved in the conspiracy, including former Guinea Bissau Navy Chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto. He and two others were arrested by US Drug Enforcement Agency officers in international waters on April 2. Two Colombian nationals were arrested in Colombia on April 4 in connection with the scheme, and await extradition to the US.
Indjai remains at large in Guinea Bissau. The charges leveled against him carry a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.