Suriname Police Break Up Crime Ring That Smuggled U.S.-Bound Drugs, Weapons

Authorities in Suriname have broken up a criminal network that smuggled arms, ammunition and cocaine from Colombia to Europe and the United States, an official said Sunday.

The network collected cocaine from Colombia that was air-dropped into neighboring Guyana, then shipped it to Suriname, from where it was exported overseas, Justice Minister Chan Santokhi said.

CountryWatch: Suriname

CountryWatch: Colombia

Since Thursday, Surinamese authorities said, they have arrested nearly a dozen people suspected of aiding the ring, including Guyanese businessman Shaheed Khan, who has been indicted in the U.S. on cocaine smuggling charges and allegedly was the group's leader.

Surinamese officials said they had not yet decided whether to charge Khan or to extradite him to the United States, and it was unclear whether Washington had filed a formal extradition request.

"This man posed a serious threat to national, regional and international security," Santokhi said.

Khan has hired a Surinamese lawyer, said his attorney in Guyana, Glenn Hanoman.

CountryWatch: Guyana

Authorities arrested Khan, three other Guyanese nationals and several Surinamese and seized about 440 pounds of cocaine on Thursday during a raid on two homes in the Surinamese capital of Paramaribo.

A grand jury indictment unsealed in New York in April charged Khan with conspiring to smuggle at least 11 pounds of cocaine into the U.S. since January 2001.

Khan controls businesses ranging from housing developments and discos to carpet cleaning. He had been in hiding for the past three months after police and the military in Guyana found weapons and drugs in buildings controlled by his business, authorities said.