Son of Former Guinea-Bissau President Sentenced in International Drug Trafficking Scheme

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The offspring of a former president of Guinea-Bissau has been handed a sentence of over six and a half years in prison for his involvement in an international heroin trafficking scheme, as per an announcement made by the US Justice Department on Tuesday.

Malam Bacai Sanha Jr, aged 52, had devised plans to utilize the profits from the trafficking operation to finance a coup in the West African nation, aiming for his eventual ascent to the presidency and the establishment of a regime centered around narcotics, according to a statement issued by the US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

Described as more than just an ordinary drug trafficker on an international scale, Sanha, being the son of a former president of Guinea-Bissau, orchestrated and led the heroin trafficking conspiracy, actively participating in its transportation from Europe to the United States, the statement revealed.

Sanha, along with a collaborator, was apprehended upon their arrival in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in July 2022, and subsequently extradited to the United States. In September 2023, Sanha admitted guilt to charges of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance with the intent of unlawful importation. He received a sentence of 80 months in prison, as announced on Tuesday.

Guinea-Bissau has a turbulent history marked by military coups interspersed with periods of democratic governance, albeit elected leaders have been able to complete their terms since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974.

Sanha’s father, Malam Bacai Sanha, initially assumed office as interim leader in 1999 following a junta’s installation before losing the subsequent year’s election. He later won the presidency in 2009 but passed away while undergoing medical treatment in Paris in January 2012 before finishing his term.

Sanha, known as “Bacaizinho” in Guinea-Bissau, has held various governmental positions, including serving as an economic advisor to his father.

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