The son of Suriname’s president is currently in Manhattan awaiting trial on charges he brandished a rocket launcher while working to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Dino Bouterse, whose strongman father, Desi, has been accused of allegedly murdering political rivals and also trafficking drugs, was arrested in Panama on Aug. 29, according to U.S. authorities. He was subsequently turned over to the U.S. and brought to Manhattan, where he appeared in court last Friday and pleaded not guilty.
Facebook profiles examined by TPM since Dino Bouterse’s arrest that appear to belong to him and his relatives show the opulent and violent lifestyle of Suriname’s ruling family. Photos on these Facebook pages include shots of luxury vacations, fancy homes, cars, and “selfies” showing off jewelry and designer clothing. The pictures also include something more sinister — multiple images of heavy weaponry and drug dealing paraphernalia.The two-count indictment filed against Dino Bouterse and his co-defendant Edmund Quincy Muntslag in a federal court in Manhattan Aug. 20 accuses Dino Bouterse of having “brandished firearms” in the furtherance of his “narcotics conspiracy” including “a Light-Antitank Weapon, which is a launcher containing a rocket, and pistols.” The indictment also accuses Dino Bouterse of having “caused a suitcase containing 10 kilograms of cocaine to be transported from Suriname to the Caribbean on board a commercial flight.” Muntslag is accused of having “traveled to an airport in Suriname in order to make arrangements for the transport” of the 10 kilograms of cocaine. Both men are accused of conspiring with “others known and unknown” from at least December 2011 up until last month to import cocaine “into the United States from a place outside thereof.”
Dino Bouterse’s court-appointed attorney, Christopher Flood, put off a request for bail and Bouterse will be held until his next hearing, which is set for Sept. 9. Neither Flood or Suriname’s mission to the UN immediately responded to a request for comment on this story.
The charges against Dino Bouterse aren’t the first allegations of drug trafficking made against him and his family. In 2005, Dino Bouterse was convicted in Suriname of leading a “ring that trafficked in cocaine, illegal arms and stolen luxury cars.” He was released from prison in 2008.
Desi Bouterse first took power in Suriname in 1980 when he led a military coup. The military dictatorship remained in power until about 1988. In 1999, a court in the Hague convicted Desi Bouterse in absentia for allegedly leading an international cocaine cartel. France also has a warrant out on Desi Bouterse on international drug smuggling charges, and U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks accused him of narcotics trafficking. In Suriname, Desi Bouterse also faces charges for allegedly killing 15 of his political rivals in 1982. That case is still ongoing.
In spite of his various legal woes, Desi Bouterse was elected to lead Suriname again by the parliament in 2010. Almost a year later, a New York Times report noted Desi Bouterse’s election spurred “fears of a possible return to the time when Suriname, once a magnet for Western mercenaries and Colombian drug cartels, was renowned for its openness to criminal enterprise.”
It is difficult to confirm with complete certainty whether the Facebook profiles that seemingly belong to Dino Bouterse and his family members are legitimate. However, there are many indications they are genuine.
The Facebook page identified as belonging to Dino Bouterse contains multiple pictures where his face is clearly visible that match other known photos. One picture shows his father the president standing behind President Barack Obama at an event.
Other pages connected to Dino Bouterse’s profile also seem to support its legitimacy. These include the official Facebook profile of President Desi Bouterse’s political party, Nationale Democratische partij. Other “friends” of the profile identified as Dino Bouterse’s include multiple accounts seemingly belonging to NDP members of Suriname’s parliament. The pages seemingly belonging to the members of Parliament contain many pictures that match their official photos and include a mix of both personal and official shots.
Comments posted on photos that appear on the Dino Bouterse Facebook page also refer to him as the son of the president.
“Happybirth day with daddy boy enjoy it and take care of him our President of Suriname,” reads one comment posted on the Dino Bouterse page.
The Dino Bouterse Facebook profile is also connected to multiple others bearing the surname of his co-defendant, Muntslag. It is also connected to at least ten profiles with the Bouterse surname. These apparent family members include a profile for Jen-ai Bouterse, who is listed on the page as Dino Bouterse’s sister. There is little information about President Bouterse’s extended family online, however multiple local forums describe him as having a daughter named Jen-ai. The 318 photos posted on Jen-ai’s Facebook page all bear a resemblance to a picture of her posted on a Surinamese news site. On the Jen-ai Bouterse Facebook page there is also a picture that appears to show President Desi Bouterse’s wife, Ingrid. That photo was captioned “Mamsje” and multiple commenters refer to it as depicting the “first lady.” If the Dino and Jen-ai Bouterse profiles are fake, it would be a hoax involving an extensive network of profiles and hundreds of photos posted over the course of at least three years.
In addition to Jen-ai Bouterse, the Dino Bouterse profile is connected to at least ten other Bouterses. Though the only weapon depicted in the five photos visible on Dino Bouterse’s page appears to be a paintball gun, several of the other Bouterses on his friends list display far more fearsome weaponry. One Facebook friend of Dino’s, Patrick Bouterse (relation unknown), has several photos showing him and others carrying machine guns. In one picture, Patrick Bouterse is shown seemingly pointing a large gun at another man who he is grabbing by the neck (pictured above). Another shot shows a man brandishing what seems to be an AK-47 and wearing a dark skeleton mask. The circumstances of the photos are not clear. Along with the shots of guns, Patrick Bouterse’s Facebook photos include a picture that shows common drug trafficking equipment: electronic scales and a cash-counting machine. In addition to the shots of weapons, many of the Bouterses’ Facebook profiles include pictures of them showing off fancy jewelry and cars.
TPM attempted to send messages to Patrick Bouterse and all the other Facebook users referenced in this post. None of them immediately responded although Patrick Bouterse accepted a friend request from TPM. We were unable to communicate with the Dino Bouterse Facebook page as it does not accept messages from users who are not already friends.
View some of the photos posted by the Bouterses on Facebook below.
The main profile photo on the Dino Bouterse Facebook page.
A photo from a Facebook page connected to Dino’s and listed as belonging to Patrick Bouterse.
Another picture from Patrick Bouterse’s page.
Photo from the Jen-ai Bouterse Facebook page that appears to show President Desi Bouterse’s wife, Ingrid.
A picture that seems to show scales and a cash counting machine from the Patrick Bouterse Facebook page.
The interior of a Lexus seen on the Patrick Bouterse Facebook page.
A photo of an armed woman from a Facebook page connected to Dino’s and listed as belonging to Stephanie Bouterse.
A picture from Patrick Bouterse’s Facebook page.
Photo showing a gun from a Facebook friend of Dino Bouterse named Ralph Bouterse.
View the full indictment against Dino Bouterse below.