Haitian senator-elect in US to face drug trafficking charges
A onetime Haitian coup leader who was recently elected senator has been taken to the United States to face longstanding federal drug trafficking charges, officials said Friday.
Guy Philippe, who has been wanted on US drug charges for more than a decade, was arrested Thursday near the capital Port-au-Prince by heavily armed Haitian antinarcotics police and transported to the United States.
Philippe, who was elected to the Haitian parliament as a senator in November, has close ties to the country’s president-elect Jovenel Moise.
Philippe “is in Miami to face federal charges here in the Southern District of Florida,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Schall.
Schall said that Philippe was currently in custody in Florida and will face a US magistrate judge.
“The case is under seal,” she said, meaning confidential information given to the court will remain private and not released to the public.
Philippe’s lawyer, Richard Dansoh, said he was being held in a federal prison in Miami and will appear before a judge Friday afternoon.
A Haitian radio station reported that Philippe was in the process of being extradited to the United States.
The Miami Herald reported that police had transferred Philippe into the custody of US Drug Enforcement Administration agents late Thursday who escorted him to the United States.
He has been wanted on US drug charges since 2005.
Philippe has consistently denied he is involved in drug trafficking. He was elected to represent the Grande Anse department in southwestern Haiti in November.
He helped lead an armed rebellion against then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 that saw Aristide flee the country.
Haitian police concluded in July that Philippe was the mastermind of an attack against a police station in Les Cayes in May that left one officer dead and two others seriously wounded. He denied the allegation.
Some Haitian lawmakers criticized Philippe’s arrest as illegal. Under Haiti’s constitution, he enjoyed immunity from arrest or prosecution during the election campaign and would be eligible for immunity once sworn into office, an event scheduled for Monday.