Translation made by kind reader in Australia of article in Suriname DWT newspaper on January 6, 2018....this translation is of the newspaper version of which the online version is a summary.


Priest warns about recruiting practices by Nigerian drugs mafia.

Paramaibo - It appears that there is a drugs network active in Suriname which is linked to Nigerian drug lords in Brazil .  Under orders of this mafia, members of this network look for financially vulnerable people.  These are misled with all sorts of tactics, for example under the guise that they can find work in the neighbouring country to the south.  Having arrived there, they are recruited by the local drugs mafia and forced to smuggle drugs to countries like Hong Kong .  John Wotherspoon, a prison chaplain in Hong Kong, has been busy for years with a "counter campaign" to forestall the drug lords. Through his service in the local jails he hears the stories of people who have fallen victim.  

The priest has previously visited countries in Africa and Latin America from which most of the prisoners come.  Right now he is travelling through countries in South America , including Suriname , to spread the message.  There are currently nine prisoners incarcerated in Hong Kong who have been convicted for drug smuggling and who come from Suriname .  The editors have viewed a list with their names.  The priest fears that because of the unstable financial-economic situation even more people can fall victim to this drugs gang.  


From the stories that the prisoners in Hong Kong have told the priest it appears that there are at least three accomplices of the Nigerian mafia active here.  Their names are known to the editors.  A former member of the drugs gang who lives in another country, has via the internet circulated information about the mafia's methods.  Wotherspoon has published this information on his website as part of his campaign.  "They are very cunning and know exactly who they can victimise: poor people who have money problems and are therefore vulnerable."  In some cases the victims even co-operate, unaware of the emotional price they will be paying for that.  "The drugs gang convinces them that smuggling is their only option to get out of their problems."  Wotherspoon wants to be a voice for these "vulnerable innocents."


The punishment for smuggling drugs in Hong Kong is very high.  For smuggling 1 to 10 grams of drugs this varies between five and ten years.  Hong Kong does not have the death penalty but other countries in Asia do have executios.  Most of the prisoners from Suriname have according to Wotherspoon sentences of twenty years and more.  While the circumstances in the cellblocks can be called good, it is difficult for the detainees because of the distance from their families, the language barrier and the long punishment.  The priest says that his campaign has been successful in other countries.  In 2015, 47 people from Africa were detained at Hong Kong airport for smuggling drugs.  The majority came from Tanzania .  In 2016, 26 people from Africa were detained and last year only nine.  Wotherspoon has also visited Venezuela where  the bad financial and economic situation is making poor people easy prey for the drugs gang.

No inf ormation.

The police department dedicated to the struggle against human trafficking (TIP) and the Narcotics Brigade have, when asked, neither denied nor confirmed this information.  The head of the Narcotics Brigade does say that there are Nigerian drugs mafia active in Brazil , but whether these also operate locally cannot be verified.  When asked, Wotherspoon says he prefers to share his information with the media rather than with the local judicial authorities.  He says he has tried that earlier in other countries and the authorities did nothing with it, according to him because of obvious self-interest.  He has also shared his information with media in other countries where the recruited victims come from.