Guy Philippe, a former paramilitary boss and coup leader who was elected to Haiti’s Senate in November, was arrested by the DEA on Jan. 5—just days before he would have been sworn into office and obtained immunity. Philippe had been wanted by the U.S. since 2005 on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and money laundering.
Philippe was popped by Haitian police and turned over to DEA agents immediately after appearing on a radio show in Port-au-Prince. He was promptly flown to the Miami to stand trial. On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to all charges in U.S. Court for the Southern District of Florida, asserting both that the case against him is politically motivated and that he already has immunity as an elected official.
Disconcertingly, many supporters showed up at the hearing at the Miami federal courthouse, including some pillars of Haiti’s political establishment. Among these were Haitian Senator Evince Francois, who told reporters: “We are here to support Senator Guy Philippe. We all feel like he is innocent. We are here to let him know we stand up behind him. We think this is all politics.”
Philippe is a former military officer and regional commander of Haiti’s National Police who was trained by the U.S. army in the 1990s. His police forces were later accused of extrajudicial killings. He was exiled after taking part in an attempted coup in 2000, and re-emerged as part of the gang, leading the 2004 coup that finally removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power. As a paramilitary enforcer for the coup gang, he was accused of further rights abuses.
His network also apparently doubled as a cocaine ring and survived the restoration of a semblance of political normalcy to Haiti. U.S. prosecutors say his handpicked collaborators in the National Police provided security for Colombian cocaine shipments as they were transferred to traffickers in Haiti for export to the United States, the Miami Herald reports.
Haiti has never really recovered from the 2004 coup and has faced repeated political crises since then.
The new Haitian Senate, elected in November, was sworn in on Jan. 9, with new president Jovenel Moïse due to take office in February. This tentatively resolves a year of impasse in which elections were put off due to concerns over political violence and unrest. Haiti has been led by an interim president since February 2016, when Michel Martelly stepped down at the end of his term—without a new president having been chosen. Throughout this period, Philippe has been an outspoken voice on Haiti’s hard right, openly calling for repressionagainst protesters.
You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ news right here.
Professional Skateboarder Suspended After Testing Positive for Weed
10 Comic Books You Should Finally Read In 2019
CBS Rejects Plans to Air Cannabis Commercial During Super Bowl 2019
New Michigan Canna-Businesses Find Ways to House Cash in Banks
News7 days ago
Governor of New York Presents Plan to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Activism4 days ago
Canadian Cannabis Activist Marc Emery Accused of Chronic Sexual Misconduct
News6 days ago
Marijuana Legalization Bill Killed by Virginia Lawmakers
News5 days ago
Iowa Mayor Charged For Growing 18 Marijuana Plants in Her Home
News7 days ago
Terminally Ill Patients in Australian Hospital to be Treated with Psilocybin
Medical Marijuana5 days ago
Governor of Florida Pushing to Lift Ban on Smokeable Marijuana
News6 days ago
Are Unlicensed Operators Accessing California’s Legal Cannabis Market?
Culture5 days ago
Why the Women of Broad City are the Stoner Heroines We’ve Been Waiting For