Like a bad penny, Guy Philippe’s name popped up in the news today. First reports suggested that he had been arrested by the DEA on drug charges yesterday in Haiti. Later today, it seems that he escaped the clutches of the feds and is nowhere to be found. The real truth is hard to discern. Yet, one thing is certain. Philippe could blow the cover on the 2004 coup in Haiti that resulted in the banishment of the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Already, Philippe has fingered several members of Haiti’s elite business class as the primary funders of the coup. If Philippe keeps talking, he could reveal the role of the US, France, and Canada in the coup. The potential of all of this is enough for the DEA to arrest him to make sure he is silenced. Yet, Philippe has been a US asset for many years and this arrest “attempt” may have been a ruse so that Philippe is disappered for a while and, like other US assets, is brought in and out of the mothballs.
Philippe, having extensive experience at pulling off coups, might be brought out once again if the need presents itself. As they say, stay tuned!
Haitian former rebel leader wanted on drug charges
Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:16PM EDT
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – U.S. and Haitian anti-drug agents tried on Monday to arrest on drug charges a leader of the 2004 rebellion that ousted then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, police officials said.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Haitian police raided the home of former army officer Guy Philippe near the southern town of Les Cayes, said Henriot Toussaint, the police chief for the southern region.
“They came aboard two planes and four helicopters to try to arrest Guy Philippe, but they did not find him,” Toussaint told Reuters.
Police officials said an international warrant was issued against Philippe, who ran for president in the national election that followed Aristide’s ouster, for his arrest on drug-related charges.
“The policemen placed under my command did not take part in the operation because we were not informed in advance about the operation,” said Toussaint. “It was exclusively conducted by DEA agents and other police officers from Port-au-Prince.”
Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, has long been a key transshipment point for South American cocaine headed for markets in the United States and Europe.
Haiti and the United States have signed an agreement that allows DEA agents to pursue and arrest drug dealers within the Caribbean country’s borders and territorial waters.
The DEA office in Miami had no immediate comment on the raid and the DEA media relations office in Washington D.C. did not return telephone calls. The U.S. embassy spokesman in the capital, Port-au-Prince, was not immediately available for comment.
Plagued by frequent bouts of political instability and a feeble national police force, Haiti has been an open territory for traffickers lured by miles (km) of unpatrolled coastline, remote airstrips and corrupt law enforcement.
Philippe, a former army officer and police commissioner, went into exile in 2000 after a disagreement with the government and police but returned in February 2004 to command the bloody rebellion that toppled Aristide’s government.
Philippe finished well back in the pack in the February 2006 election won by President Rene Preval.
Preval had complained that the United States had not used its power to counter drug dealers’ activities and said Haiti would never enjoy lasting peace and stability unless the drug problem is dealt with.
While the U.S. and Haitian agents failed to capture Philippe, they did arrest a hotel owner, Lavaud Francois, on drug trafficking charges on Monday, said Osman Desmangles, a spokesman for police in the northern town of Gonaives.
Desmangles said Lavaud was the subject of an international arrest warrant and was taken by helicopter to Port-au-Prince.
Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.