Countering 'narco' label, Guinea Bissau makes drugs extradition

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 13, 2013 1:07 PM

BISSAU (Reuters) - Guinea-Bissau has made its first extradition of a suspected drug trafficker, it said on Tuesday, part of an effort to shake off its international reputation as a 'narco-state'.

The West African country handed over Telmo Perez Fernandes to Spanish authorities on Sunday, the justice ministry said. The 48-year-old Spanish citizen was arrested on June 5 at the request of the Spanish police.

"This is the first extradition of a suspected drug dealer made by the Guinea-Bissau authorities," the ministry said.

The handover happened despite there being no extradition treaty between the two countries. The Spanish Interior Ministry and police had no immediate comment.

Chronic instability since independence in 1974 has made the tiny former Portuguese colony a hub for Latin American drugs cartels smuggling cocaine to Europe.

U.S. justice officials captured Guinea-Bissau's former navy chief in a high-seas sting in April and have accused senior members of the military of plotting to traffic cocaine to the United States.

The government of Guinea Bissau has always denied that top officials were involved in drug trafficking.

"This (extradition) is the perfect illustration of the determination of the national authorities to cooperate and comply with all international provisions in terms of the fight against organized crime," the ministry said.

(Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)