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Guinea-Bissau Leader’s Son Jailed In US For Drug Trafficking

The son of Guinea-Bissau’s former president has been handed a sentence of over six years in prison by a US court for his involvement in an international heroin trafficking operation.

Malam Bacai Sanha Jr., aged 52, allegedly orchestrated the trafficking scheme with intentions to bankroll his bid for Guinea-Bissau’s presidency through a coup, according to authorities.

He is the offspring of Malam Bacai Sanha, who steered the West African nation from 2009 until his passing in 2012.

Sanha Jr.’s ties to a botched coup in February 2022 have been established.

He was extradited to the US in August 2022, subsequent to his arrest in Tanzania a few weeks earlier.

His trial commenced shortly after, and in September last year, he admitted guilt to charges of conspiring to unlawfully import drugs.

“FBI agent Douglas Williams emphasized that Malam Bacai Sanha Jr’s criminal pursuits transcended typical drug trafficking activities, stating, ‘He is the son of the former president of Guinea-Bissau and was trafficking drugs for a very specific reason: to fund a coup that would eventually lead him to the presidency of his native country, where he planned to establish a drug regime.'”

Sanha Jr stands accused of importing heroin from various nations into Portugal as well as facilitating its transit from Europe to the United States.

US authorities have indicated the possibility of his deportation upon completion of his sentence due to his non-American citizenship.

The individual, known as “Bacaizinho” in Guinea-Bissau, has occupied various governmental positions, including serving as his father’s economic adviser.

Reports suggest that he confessed to direct involvement in the failed 2022 coup endeavor to overthrow President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, which resulted in the deaths of 11 individuals, primarily security personnel.

Sanha Jr. purportedly disclosed to undercover agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) his utilization of drug profits to finance the coup plotters, as per a report by German state-owned broadcaster Deutsche Welle last year.

Guinea-Bissau has gained notoriety as a hub for drug trafficking. It serves as a crucial conduit for cocaine from Latin America destined for Europe, prompting both the US and the UN to label it a “narco-state” over a decade ago.

Experts assert that drug traffickers and networks wield significant influence and have entrenched themselves within the country’s government, often financing election campaigns for politicians favorable to safeguarding the illicit trade.

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