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Suriname Customs Official Arrested for Fuel Fraud

SURINAME / 2 FEB 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

Police in Suriname have arrested a high-ranking customs official for fuel fraud, in another sign of how vulnerable the tiny country is to organized crime and corruption.

De Ware Tijd newspaper reported that the official was not accurately reporting fuel imports. The scheme involved trawlers that would collect cheap fuel at sea and return to sell it in Suriname for a profit, with the official presumably taking a commission on these sales.

The senior inspector involved was the second customs official arrested for fraud in two weeks, the newspaper reported. The other official was arrested for forging documents related to car imports.

The newspaper did not give the name of either official.

InSight Crime Analysis

Suriname and its neighbors host a range of international criminal activity, such as drug trafficking. According to the 2011 State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Suriname is a transit point for cocaine from South America, primarily heading to Europe and Africa, and usually by sea.

"Porous borders ... make Suriname a target for transshipment of drugs," the report stated.

Suriname is also vulnerable to other criminal activities. Alleged members of a Chinese human trafficking ring were recently arrested in Amsterdam en route to the tiny Caribbean nation. Additionally, pirates dog fishermen off the coast of Suriname and neighboring Guyana. The United States has responded with aid in the form of patrol boats for the two countries to help combat crime and violence.

The country's image worsened with the inauguration of controversial "narco-president" Desi Bouterse. Bouterse was convicted by a Dutch court of drug trafficking in 1999 and is currently on trial in his own country for multiple homicides that occurred in 1982.

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