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Ex Guinea-Bissau President’s Son Jailed in U.S. for Drug Trafficking

He is the son of Malam Bacai Sanha, who led the West African country from 2009 but died while seeking medical treatment in Paris in January 2012, before completing his tenure.

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Malam Bacai Sanha Jr, the son of a former president of Guinea-Bissau, has been sentenced to 80 months in prison for his involvement in a transnational heroin trafficking conspiracy, the US Justice Department announced.

He is the son of Malam Bacai Sanha, who led the West African country from 2009 but died while seeking medical treatment in Paris in January 2012, before completing his tenure.

The 52-year-old, known as “Bacaizinho” in Guinea-Bissau, has held several roles in the government, including being his father’s economic adviser.

He planned to use the proceeds to finance a coup in the West African country that would lead to his eventual presidency and establishment of a “drugs regime,” a statement released by the US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

According to the statement, Sanha Jr was a leader and organizer in the heroin trafficking conspiracy and was involved in its importation from Europe to the United States.

“Malam Bacai Sanha Jr. wasn’t any ordinary international drug trafficker. He is the son of the former president of Guinea-Bissau and was trafficking drugs for a very specific reason — to fund a coup,” special agent in charge of the FBI Houston Field Office, Douglas Williams, said.

He was arrested along with a co-conspirator after arriving in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in July 2022, and they were extradited to the United States shortly afterwards.

His trial began soon afterwards, in September 2023, where he pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally import drugs.

He also reportedly confessed that he was “personally involved” in the foiled 2022 coup attempt to unseat President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, which left 11 people dead, most of them members of the security forces.

Ruling on the case, the U.S. District Judge, Keith Ellison, ordered Sanha Jr. to serve an 80-month term of imprisonment.

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