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U.S. accuses Bissau army head in Colombia drugs, weapons plot
April 18, 2013 / 5:26 PM / in 5 years

U.S. accuses Bissau army head in Colombia drugs, weapons plot

DAKAR (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice has accused Guinea-Bissau’s top military official of plotting to traffic cocaine to the United States and sell weapons to Colombian rebels, according to court documents seen by Reuters on Thursday.

Guinea-Bissau armed forces chief-of-staff General Antonio Indjai (C) leaves a meeting with the president and the regional body of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the capital Bissau November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Penney

The accusation against General Antonio Indjai - widely seen as the coup-prone West African nation’s most powerful man - is the first official signal that criminality may go straight to the top in what has for years been labeled a ‘narco-state’.

Guinea Bissau authorities repeatedly have denied any involvement in drug trafficking.

The indictment filed in New York’s Southern District Court and seen by a Reuters reporter, charges Indjai on four counts: “narco-terrorism conspiracy”, conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, cocaine importation conspiracy and conspiracy to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles.

Colombia’s FARC rebel group (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) has been labeled a terrorist organization by Washington.

Guinea-Bissau’s military has long been accused of involvement in trafficking Latin American cocaine, using its mangrove-lined offshore islands as cover against the region’s notoriously weak law enforcement.

U.S. undercover agents snared Guinea-Bissau’s former Navy chief Rear Admiral in a high-seas drugs sting on April 2 - the most high-profile score in the U.S. war on drugs in Africa - that sources familiar with the operation say also targeted Indjai, but missed.

Additional reporting by Bernard Vaughn in New York; Editing by David Lewis and Michael Roddy

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