Haitian Senator Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Launder Money From Drug Trafficking
MIAMI – An elected but not sworn-in Haitian senator pleaded guilty on Monday in US federal court in Miami to a money laundering charge in connection with an international narcotics scheme.
Former high-ranking Haitian National Police officer Guy Philippe, 49, appeared before US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida, where he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering stemming from his receipt of cash payments derived from the proceeds of narcotics sales that occurred in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Altonaga in Miami on July 5, 2017.
Philippe’s arrest and immediate “extradition” to the United States on January 5 before he was sworn in as a newly elected senator caused much controversy in Haiti, since formal extradition proceedings were not instituted.
His senate colleagues passed a resolution declaring that Philippe’s arrest constituted “an attack on democracy, human rights and to the rule of law, which are the foundations of the mission of the United Nations, of the OAS…” and also a lack of respect “of rights to self-determination of the Haitian people.”
However, according to admissions made in connection with the plea, beginning in the late 1990s, Philippe knowingly using his position as a high-ranking Haitian National Police Officer to provide protection for the shipments of drugs and drug proceeds arriving into Haiti in exchange for cash payments.
Philippe admitted that from approximately June 1999 to April 2003, he received between $1.5 and $3.5 million in bribes from drug traffickers, knowing that the payments he received constituted proceeds of cocaine sales that occurred in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States.
Philippe also admitted that he shared a portion of these payments with Haitian National Police officials and other security personnel to ensure their continued support for future drug shipments arriving into Haiti. Philippe used these payments to purchase a residence in Broward County, Florida; and to support himself and to support his family in the United States.
In addition, Philippe wired proceeds derived from the sale of cocaine, in the amount of $376,000, from banks in Haiti and Ecuador to a joint bank account in Miami. To avoid detection, Philippe used the names of others to wire the funds to his account. Philippe further admitted that he arranged for over $70,000 in drug proceeds to be deposited into his account that were conducted in a series of deposits each less than $10,000 to avoid the US federal reporting requirements.
“In addition to its other pernicious effects, drug trafficking corrupts public officials and important government institutions that form the foundation of every democracy. Philippe – a former high-ranking official in the Haitian National Police – was on the payroll of the drug traffickers for years, receiving more than $1.5 million in bribe payments for protecting drug shipments,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department’s investigation and prosecution of this case for more than a decade demonstrates its commitment to prosecuting all of those who facilitate the international drug trade, including the corrupt officials on the take, and that there is no place to hide from the US justice system.”
This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.