Brazil Arrests Internationally Wanted Surinamese Fugitive

Published: 06 June 2024

Brazil Police GeneralBrazilian police arrest Surinamese fugitive, wanted internationally. (Photo: Polícia Federal, License)

By Vinicius Madureira and Eduardo Goulart

A Surinamese man, wanted by Interpol for a series of crimes including the smuggling of approximately 450 kg of cocaine by aircraft, was captured last week in São Paulo, Brazilian Federal Police stated.

In addition to drug trafficking, Surinamese authorities are also pursuing Joel Timotheus Martinus, known also as Money Hond Bordo, for charges including murder, making threats, involvement in criminal organizations, and money laundering.

However, he vehemently opposed extradition to his homeland, citing fears for his life.

Martinus was tracked down nearly two months after opening a shoe store in the same city where he was apprehended last Wednesday. He opposed being extradited to Suriname, asserting that the country’s president wanted to kill him.

After his arrest, Martinus and his lawyer informed a Brazilian judge of his fears, with Martinus crying, “I don’t want to die,” and “That man [the president] will kill me for sure.”

Martinus emphasized that Suriname’s president sought his demise due to his political defection and his growing influence among the youngsters.

On his Instagram profile, Martinus showcases posters of his shows alongside flashy photos flaunting gold chains, rings, bracelets, cars, and cash. He boldly describes himself as one of Suriname's rising stars, amassing over 13,000 followers.

In December 2020, Martinus allegedly received a massive cocaine shipment via aircraft and hired an excavator operator to dispose of the plane, but stiffed him on payment. The operator, before vanishing mysteriously, shared photos of the aircraft and its cargo.

After intensive investigations and aided by two arrested individuals’ testimonies, authorities uncovered the buried aircraft in Marowijne. Witnesses claimed to have seen Martinus and his crew unloading cocaine from the plane into his car.

One accomplice, involved in drug transfer and airstrip construction, accused Martinus of threatening him with disappearance, sparking suspicions of Martinus’ involvement in the excavator operator’s vanishing.

Interpol’s Brasília office has labeled Martinus as violent and dangerous. Despite this, he was found living freely in São Paulo.

Surinamese authorities have been notified of Martinus’ arrest, enabling them to formally request his extradition from Brazil.

Martinus’ lawyer has by Thursday not returned OCCRP’s calls.

Brazil’s extradition treaty with Suriname allows for Martinus’ extradition since the crimes occurred in Suriname, where he faces criminal charges and where, if convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Martinus is also sought by French authorities, having been convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to prison in 2019.