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7209: US Department of State on Haiti and Drugs (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>


I. Summary

Cocaine flow through Haiti decreased from 13 percent to 8 percent of the
total detected flow in 2000, but little of this is attributable to the
efforts of the Haitian Government. Despite this decrease, Haiti's location
combined with extreme poverty, corruption, and limited law enforcement and
justice capability continue to make Haiti a major transshipment point for
South American narcotics, especially Colombian cocaine. The Organization of
American States' (OAS) questioning of the legitimacy of the May 2000
National Assembly elections and the Government of Haiti's (GOH) lack of
action to correct this situation resulted in the suspension of most
international assistance to the Government of Haiti. In September, the GOH
declined to sign a Letter of Agreement for U.S. Government (USG)
counternarcotics assistance. In November, a U.S. law was enacted that
stipulates that no U.S. assistance may be made available to the central
Government of Haiti until two conditions (discussed in detail below) were

The Government of Haiti cooperated fully in a limited number of areas;
specifically, on maritime interdiction operations with the U.S. Coast Guard
and multilateral interdiction operations. However, attempts to curb
corruption have been minimal. In September 2000, the United States and Haiti
were unable to agree to terms for a Letter of Agreement for United States
Government counternarcotics assistance.

>From mid-1997 to the end of 2000, the passage of counternarcotics-related
legislation related to counternarcotics measures was delayed by a prolonged
political crisis. Elections in May 2000 resulted in a new Parliament that,
by year's end, ratified a U.S.-Haitian bilateral maritime counterdrug
agreement and an Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected as President and took
office on February 7, 2001. In a December 27 letter to President Clinton,
then President-Elect Aristide pledged to "enhance substantially cooperation
to combat drug trafficking."

II. Status of Country

Haiti, was engulfed in a dangerously polarized political situation
throughout 2000 that damaged further the country's meager economy. While
elections in May restored a functioning Parliament after nearly a four-year
lapse, irregularities in the election caused the opposition and much of the
international community to question the legitimacy of the new Parliament.
Former President Aristide was elected as president in November in an
election boycotted by most opposition parties. He took office February 7,

The new Haitian Parliament's opening session was delayed over international
concerns about irregularities in the May elections. Once in session,
Parliament ratified the 1997 bilateral agreement with the United States on
ending maritime trafficking and the Inter-American Convention against
Corruption; and, in January 2001, it enacted the National Drug Control
Strategy (NDCS) along with anti-money laundering legislation. The United
States had lobbied for the passage of the NDCS and anti-money laundering
bills and is working with the GOH on implementation plans. The GOH will need
technical assistance to implement the legislation. The Foreign Operations,
Export Financing, and Related Programs Act, 2001 (P.L. 106-429) stipulates
that no funds appropriated by that Act or any previous Foreign Operations
appropriations Act can be made available for assistance for the central
Government of Haiti until the Secretary of State reports that Haiti has held
free and fair elections to seat a new parliament and the Director of the
U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)reports that Government
of Haiti is fully cooperating with United States efforts to interdict
illicit drug traffic through Haiti to the United States. Neither of these
conditions has been met.

In a December 27 letter to President Clinton, President- Elect Aristide
pledged, among other things, to "enhance substantially cooperation to combat
drug trafficking."

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2000

Policy Initiatives. Haiti's counternarcotics initiatives suffered due to the
political impasse and economic instability and apparent lack of political
will. The new parliament, however, moved quickly after President Aristide's
election to approve antidrug legislation and a National Drug Control
Strategy. Only asset forfeiture and chemical control laws remain to be

Illicit Cultivation and Production. Haiti is not a major drug cultivating or
drug producing country. Cultivation, production, distribution, sale and
possession of narcotics are illegal in Haiti. Some small marijuana
cultivation sites were found in the country, likely intended for local use.

Money Laundering. On January 17, 2001, the Haitian parliament approved a
money laundering law originally written in 1997. The legislature also
approved the National Drug Control Strategy. In August Haiti's central bank
published a circular directing commercial banks, savings banks, foreign
exchange brokers and transfer agencies to report to the GOH individual
monetary transactions valued at or above the Haitian gourde equivalent of
10,000 U.S. dollars. This is the GOH's first known attempt to address money
laundering through Haitian banking institutions. The United Nations Drug
Control Program (UNDCP) has provided a money-laundering expert to work with
the GOH on implementing the new legislation.

Asset Seizure. The lack of asset forfeiture legislation and a functional
seizure process has the Haitian government's ability to seize and utilize
the property of criminals. Apart from abandoned Colombian go-fast boats
recovered on the south coast, which were reconditioned by the USCG, the
government has been unable to utilize the assets seized in drug raids. There
were, however, reports in 2000 of property being returned to its owner after
attempts to effect its seizure failed because of the lack of a clearly
defined process.

Precursor Chemical Control. Haiti has no precursor chemical and essential
chemicals control law. While suspect activity in precursor chemicals exists,
no significant trade has been detected.

Demand Reduction. The GOH does not operate a demand reduction or public
awareness program. Anecdotal reports indicate that local consumption is
rising as traffickers increasingly pay their personnel in product. There
have been many reports of local citizens seizing cocaine before it could be
delivered to the individual in charge of transit through Haiti. Cocaine is
widely known as "manna from heaven" throughout Haiti, as it has become a
source of income for entire towns. Stolen drugs are re-sold to dealers who
then either sell them locally or send them to the United States or Canada.

Law Enforcement Efforts. The GOH is aware of the nation's status as a
principal transit zone for narcotics trafficked from South to North America.
For the Government of Haiti, counternarcotics efforts are secondary to the
far more pressing matters of political stability, public order, and economic
development. While the GOH insists that it is willing to combat drug
trafficking if provided with needed resources and intelligence information,
the minimal law enforcement progress that was accomplished was a result of
U.S. agents working side-by-side with fledgling Haitian narcotics officers.

The Haitian Coast Guard (HCG), a unit of the HNP that works closely with the
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), has shown promise of developing into effective
counternarcotics entity. A USCG team that trained and advised the HCG was
withdrawn in December 2000 to comply with legislative restrictions on
assistance to the central government of Haiti l. Expanded HCG patrols in
2000 targeted Haiti's ten most active ports. Working closely with the DEA,
USCG, and HNP anti drug unit (French acronym is BLTS), the HCG boarded ships
at sea and in port. It was the lead agency for the first-ever boarding and
search of a large merchant vessel in Port-au-Prince harbor and seized
sixteen vessels for suspicion of trafficking. While seizures were down in
2000, institutional and infrastructure development continued. A north coast
base built with USG funds is almost complete, but a similar facility is
needed on the southern coast of Haiti where most of the go-fast boats
discharge their cocaine shipments.

During 2000, the HNP seized 238 kilograms of cocaine and just over 370
pounds of marijuana. Drug-related arrests matched the downward trend, with
58 recorded in 2000, compared to 72 in 1999.

With USG support, a trailer was refitted as an office and located at the
Port-au-Prince seaport for use by the interagency maritime interdiction task
force. It now serves as a coordination center for maritime interdiction
activities off Haiti's coasts and in port . With DEA guidance, the task
force has begun conducting port surveys throughout Haiti in an effort to
develop sources of information and contacts with port authorities and other
law enforcement entities. According to DEA, the Haitian airport and maritime
drug units are evolving into disciplined professional units that are
increasingly willing to work with U.S. counterparts. The fledgling
organizations show willingness to work and to improve their professional

In January, the HNP Director General agreed to increase total BLTS agents
from 25 to 75. At year's end, 26 new agents had been added, bringing the
total to 49. The United States intends to polygraph these agents. In March,
the GOH participated in Operation Conquistador, an operation that resulted
in an increased level of vehicle and vessel searches, airline passenger and
baggage inspection, and search warrants in areas of high drug trafficking
activity. No large seizures were reported.

A Joint Information Coordination Center (JICC) began operations at the
Port-au-Prince international airport in October 1999. The JICC has been used
primarily for sharing information between Haitian authorities. No
significant drug seizures were attributed to its operations in 2000. Because
of GOH failure to appoint a director for the JICC, the USG suspended in
September its support for a technical advisor.

A Haitian customs agent and his dog trained for three months in France with
French Customs instructors. The dog and handler now assist in searches for
contraband at the Port-au-Prince airport.

Corruption. Haiti recently ratified the Inter-American Convention Against
Corruption. Despite continuing official declarations that corruption will
not be tolerated, it is endemic throughout the HNP, Customs, Justice and
Port Authority sectors. Public officials at all levels are paid salaries
that are sufficiently meager to predispose them to bribery. High level GOH
officials of the Preval administration and members of the National Assembly
are also suspected of ties with narcotraffickers. Agreements and Treaties.
Haiti is party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, its 1972 Protocol and the
1988 UN Drug Convention. Haiti has not ratified the 1971 Vienna Convention
on Psychotropic Substances. In December 2000, Haiti was one of 125 countries
to sign the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the
supplementary protocols on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons.

Extradition. Haiti and the U.S. have had a bilateral Extradition Treaty
since 1904. It has not been used in recent years. The Haitian constitution
of 1987 forbids extradition of Haitians.

In December 1998, the GOH signed a Letter of Agreement with the U.S. in
which it agreed to act diligently on U.S. requests for deportation or
expulsion to the U.S. of non-Haitian nationals suspected of drug trafficking
and wanted by the U.S. justice system. In August, the Haitian National
Police (HNP) arrested a Colombian national wanted for parole violation in
the U.S. and subsequently expelled him to the U.S. This was the first
non-Haitian national expelled from Haiti to the U.S. pursuant to the 1998
agreement. In January, the GOH expelled suspected trafficker Gary Levell, a
French citizen, to Florida where he was under indictment for drug

Drug flow and transit. Cocaine flow through Haiti decreased from 13 percent
to 8 percent of the total detected flow in 2000. Law enforcement actions,
particularly U.S. Customs seizures of cocaine aboard Haitian freighters
moored in the Miami River, account for some of this decrease. The largest
factor may be the difficulties traffickers experienced in moving drugs
through Haiti because of poor infrastructure or the seizure of drugs by
rival traffickers or other criminals. Air shipments dropped significantly in
2000, particularly after several aircraft crashed trying to land on
makeshift runways.

Most Colombian cocaine transiting Haiti now arrives on the southern coast in
coastal freighters, container ships and small non-commercial boats. Port
areas are largely unsecured and coastal areas are porous. The HCG has no
routine presence on the south coast and local police do not take any action.

After cocaine enters Haiti, there are several methods of onward shipment.
Some cocaine transits to the north coast and continues its journey in
Haitian freighters or in containers bound for the U.S. Cocaine is the
principal business in some coastal towns, including those on the northern
side of the southern claw. Some crosses the border to the Dominican Republic
to be loaded into containers or small vessels bound for North America or
Europe. Some is transshipped in small vessels to Puerto Rico and then
shipped via container cargo vessels or commercial airlines to North America
or Europe.

IV U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Some bilateral programs showed potential; however, the Government of Haiti
(GOH) did not sign a Letter of Agreement for USG FY-2000 counternarcotics
assistance funds, primarily because the GOH objected to the implications of
the agreement's language prohibiting assistance to narcotraffickers.
Assistance pending from previous years funding has been suspended until the
new administration's intentions on counternarcotics cooperation are

Other U.S. programs, including those administered by the U.S. Department of
Justice's ICITAP and OPDAT, were suspended during 2000 as a result of
dissatisfaction with the results of the May elections and overall
dissatisfaction with the programs as catalogued in a GAO report. The
Bilateral Coast Guard Program, which showed measurable progress within 2000,
was suspended as a result of restrictions in the FY-2001 Foreign Operations
Appropriations Act (discussed above in the Status of Country section).

The Road Ahead. Despite this year's decline, little of which can be
attributed to the efforts of the GOH, the quantity of drugs transiting Haiti
is still far too high. This trade threatens the stability and integrity of
Haitian institutions and will ruin countless lives in Haiti and elsewhere.
The new administration of President Aristide needs to halt this trade and
make the rooting out of its corrupting and destabilizing influences one of
its top priorities.

The new Aristide administration must move quickly to implement the recently
passed counternarcotics and anti-money laundering legislation. At the
regional level, it should join the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force
(CFATF), strengthen significantly counternarcotics cooperation with the
neighboring Dominican Republic, and participate in regional counternarcotics
interdiction exercises. Haiti also needs to establish a financial
investigations unit that is able to analyze and investigate suspected money
laundering. These law enforcement activities should be combined with
education initiatives designed to convince Haiti's youth of the risks and
consequences of addiction and to change public perceptions that engaging in
drug trafficking is an acceptable means to escape poverty.

International assistance can play a strong part in assisting Haiti in
confronting the drug trade. Such assistance, however, is valueless and will
not be forthcoming unless Haiti moves decisively to strengthen law
enforcement and judicial institutions, particularly to root out and
establish effective internal controls against corruption. Without taking
basic measures such as reinvigorating the Inspector General function of the
Haitian National Police and enacting and implementing fully tough
anticorruption statutes, Haiti's and the international community's efforts
to fight illegal drugs there will be destined to be ineffective.