US Court Sentences Son of Guinea-Bissau’s Former President for Drug Trafficking

The offspring of Guinea-Bissau’s former president has been handed a sentence exceeding six years in a US court for orchestrating an international heroin trafficking operation.

Malam Bacai Sanha Jr, aged 52, allegedly devised plans to utilize the profits to fuel his aspirations of seizing power in Guinea-Bissau through a coup, according to authorities. He is the progeny of Malam Bacai Sanha, who governed the West African nation from 2009 until his demise in 2012. Sanha Jr’s involvement has also been linked to a failed coup attempt in February 2022. Following his arrest in Tanzania, he was extradited to the US in August 2022, and his trial commenced shortly thereafter. In September of the preceding year, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to unlawfully import drugs.

Describing Sanha Jr as more than just a typical drug trafficker, FBI agent Douglas Williams highlighted his familial ties to the former president and his strategic drug trafficking endeavors aimed at facilitating a coup to ascend to power in Guinea-Bissau. Sanha Jr is accused of importing heroin from various countries to Portugal and Europe, including the United States. US authorities suggest the possibility of his deportation upon completion of his prison term, given his non-American citizenship. Known as “Bacaizinho” in Guinea-Bissau, Sanha Jr has held various governmental positions, including economic adviser to his father. Reports suggest his alleged involvement in the failed 2022 coup, where he purportedly disclosed his engagement in financing the coup plotters using drug proceeds.

Guinea-Bissau has long been notorious as a hub for drug trafficking, labeled a “narco-state” by the US and the UN over a decade ago. Analysts emphasize the significant influence of drug traffickers and their networks within the government, often backing political candidates supportive of safeguarding the illegal drug trade.