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DEA, State Department Continue Investigation of Haitian Leaders


November 1994

Sources in the DEA report that the agency continues to investigate leads that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and military leaders were involved in taking bribes from Colombian drug cartels to allow transshipment of drugs through Haiti into the U.S. (Pierre Thomas, "Countercharges Complicate U.S. Drug Probe of Haitians," Washington Post, Oct. 12, 1994, p. A28).

As reported in last month's NewsBriefs, a former member of the Medellin cartel told U.S. officials that Aristide and other top government leaders accepted bribes from the cartel. Aristide countercharged that the military leaders who had taken over the government and ousted him from power were able to maintain their rule because of subsidies from the cartels. Aristide denies any involvement in drug trafficking. (See "Informer Links Haitain President Aristide to Medellin Cartel," NewsBriefs, Sept./Oct., p. 10).

According to the Post, the DEA investigation is not progressing because there are so many charges and countercharges between Aristide and the military leaders.

"It's a mess," said one source, who refused to be identified. "You investigate the military, and allegations develop about Aristide. People from both sides are pointing the finger at one another. It's a morass trying to figure out who did what."

Another unnamed source said that "everybody is pointing fingers, toes, and everything else at each other. About all it is at this point is allegations."

Lee McClenny, public affairs officer with the State Department, spoke with NewsBriefs on Nov. 21. He denies that there is a continuing investigation of Aristide and the military leaders. He said that the government remains by its statement of Oct. 3, which read: "We have said on several occasions, and it is still the case, that the State Department has no information or evidence to support allegations that Aristide has connections to the drug trade ... [the allegations are] nothing more than politically-motivated character assassination."

McClenny had no comment when asked if Haitian military leaders or former leaders were under investigation. According to the Post article, the DEA is targeting Major General Jean-Claude Duperval, chief of the armed forces; Colonel Antoine Atouriste; Lieutenant Colonel Michel Francois, the former head of Port-au-Prince police; and Max Paul, director of ports for Haiti.