Drug Kingpin Arrested in Int'l Waters Faces Trial

Published: 08 April 2013


The former navy chief of the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau was arrested April 2 by United States federal agents for his alleged role in trafficking tons of drugs, the US Attorney’s Office announced in a press release. Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto was arrested along with two alleged co-conspirators while on a US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) yacht in international waters.

Na Tchuto will be tried as a drug kingpin, while the others arrested are charged with trafficking-related offenses. Four of seven men picked up in a series of related raids are accused of conspiracy to provide aid, including heavy weapons, to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (FARC), and of storing FARC-owned cocaine, the DEA said.

FARC is a Colombian paramilitary organization responsible for large-scale drug trafficking, which the US government has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The arrests by the DEA involved two undercover operations that began in the summer of 2012, during which DEA operatives and confidential sources posed as South American drug traffickers. The accused agreed to store multiple tons of cocaine and eventually facilitate its shipment to the US. The majority of the proceeds were to go to FARC, while some money would be used to bribe officials in Guinea-Bissau to ensure safe passage of the drugs. 

The defendants allegedly also agreed to divert weapons imported for the Guinea-Bissau military, including surface-to-air missiles and AK-47 assault rifles with attached grenade launchers, to be used by FARC against US forces. 

In the second part of the undercover operation, DEA agents arrested three other suspects April 4 in a West African nation the Agency refused to name and transported them to the US to face trial. In a related operation, two Colombian nationals were arrested on Interpol warrants and charged with conspiring to import narcotics into the United States and to aid the FARC. Their extradition to the US is pending.