‘Suriname’s Muntslag flew to T&T for rendezvous’

(Trinidad Express) EDMUND MUNTSLAG, considered by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as an international drug trafficker, had come to Trinidad to rendezvous with a contact just before he was arrested on August 29.

Sources close to the investigation in the United States,Trinidad and Suriname told the Express that Munt­­­­slag, who, along with the son of Suri­name President Desi Bouterse, was charged with drug trafficking, had been under surveillance for the past six months by DEA agents.

Bouterse was additionally charged with violating firearms laws by brandishing a light anti-tank weapon during the narcotics offence.

Bouterse faces a US federal indictment, alleging he worked with a man identified as Edmund Quincy Muntslag to smuggle cocaine into the United States starting in or about December 2011.

While Bouterse was held in Panama on August 29 and handed over to US agents, the arrest of Munstlag, aka “Black”, on the same day, was low-key and went unnoticed by many.

Who exactly is Muntslag?

The Express, which had been checking on Muntslag’s background for the last three weeks, found out from DEA and other US-based sour­ces, as well as sources in Suriname, that Muntslag was well wired into the world of drug running and one source referred to him “as an international drug trafficker with significant connections”.

They believe Muntslag’s flight to this country was no fluke and he had planned on meeting someone here with “clout” before leaving this coun­try.

Law enforcement sources close to the investigation in Trinidad said the provisional warrant for Muntslag’s arrest was signed three days before he arrived in Trinidad.

“Muntslag’s arrest had long been in the planning. DEA agents, for almost six months, had infiltrated Munt­slag and Bouterse’s operations and were posing as drug traffickers,” revealed a source in Suriname who has been following the investigation closely.

Senior law enforcement sources privy to the investigation revealed to the Express that Munstlag arrived in this country on August 29 and checked into a hotel near Piarco International Airport before he was set to rendezvous with a contact at Trincity Mall in Trincity.

Sources say Muntslag arrived at Trincity Mall that day while he was under the surveillance of a team of officers from the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Interdiction Bureau (OCNFB) who were tracking his movements.

But the OCNFB “had no choice but to nab Muntslag before he met his contact because he was on to them”, according to a law enforcement source.

Who was the contact? And what exactly was the meeting about?
Answers, according to law enforcement authorities here, they have not been able to unearth.

The phone records in Muntslag’s hotel room were checked but no calls were made from this number. Local authorities who were working closely with DEA agents and US authorities say they also traced calls made from his cellphone but were unable to come up with any calls made to anyone in Trinidad.

Authorities believe it is quite likely Muntslag made contact from a different phone before leaving Suriname.

The Express was reliably informed by a Surinamese source that Muntslag’s parents are well-respec­ted business people and own Muntslag’s Place, a guest house in Para­maribo, Suriname’s capital.

“Munstlag is relatively young, just 29. A lot of people here don’t know much about him and what he might have been into,” said another source in Suriname.

Munstlag’s extradition hearing is set for September 26 at the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court, and he will be represented by attorney Keith Scotland.

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