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Former Haiti police chief arrested

From Susan Candiotti

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Miami (Florida)
Organized Crime

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- U.S. federal agents have arrested Haiti's former national police chief in Miami, as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's ongoing investigation into drug trafficking in the Caribbean nation, according to a DEA spokesman and court documents.

Rudy Therassan will appear in federal court Monday to face a single count of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, according to DEA spokesman Special Agent Joe Kilmer.

The court document alleges Therassan supervised drug trafficking operations while he served as the commander of the Haitian National Police Brigade from April 2001 until approximately August 2003.

The affidavit is based on the testimony of four confidential sources: a former Haitian drug trafficker who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges; a "cooperating witness" who has connections to targets of the investigation; a former Haitian government official who has been charged in the case, hoping for a reduced sentence; and a former Haitian police officer who has never been charged or convicted.

A law enforcement source, familiar with the investigation, identified the first source as Beaudouin "Jacques" Ketant who -- according to a State Department document -- was arrested in June 2003 in Haiti and transported to Miami to face drug and murder charges in the U.S.

In the court document, one of the informants testified he witnessed Therassan shoot and kill Ketant's brother, Haitian drug trafficker Hector Ketant, and his bodyguard after a dispute over money.

The informant, described as a former government official, testified that Therassan was ordered by an unnamed Haitian government official to kill Ketant.

After allegedly killing him, Therassan recovered a list of government officials involved in Ketant's drug business, the informant said.

Therassan told police after the February 2003 shooting that he and other police officers acted in self-defense while attempting to arrest Ketant.

The criminal complaint describes in detail the extent of Therassan's alleged involvement in drug trafficking, using his power as Haiti's police commander to provide security to drug shipments from South America.

The document alleges Therassan received $150,000 in cash for each plane-load of cocaine he allowed to land on Haiti's Route 9. The drugs were subsequently smuggled into the U.S., it states.

The U.S. has charged that Haiti, under deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was a "key conduit for drug traffickers transporting cocaine from South America to the United States," according to the U.S. State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report for 2003.

Furthermore, "elements of that government were corrupt and shot through with drug money," according to Robert Charles of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

In March, the DEA arrested Oriel Jean, a former aide to Aristide, on drug trafficking charges.

Aristide left office in February 2003 and went into exile. A caretaker government is running Haiti pending elections next year.

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