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Informer Links Haitian President Aristide to Medellin Cartel


September-October 1994

Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide took bribes from leaders of a Colombian drug cartel in order to ensure cocaine trafficking routes through Haiti into the United States would continue to stay open, an informant told the Drug Enforcement Administration (Jerry Seper, "Escobar Aide Tells DEA of Aristide Bribe," Washington Times, Oct. 3, 1994, p. 1).

The unidentified informant, a former aide to Pablo Escobar and former lieutenant in the Medellin cartel, said Aristide took a suitcase filled with several thousand dollars from a cartel courier in 1991. The informant said top Aristide officials also took bribes.

The Justice Department rejected a request from Miami DEA officials in September to be allowed to question Aristide about the alleged bribes. Aristide denies ever taking bribes and a spokesperson calls the informant's story "nonsense."

The DEA has long considered Haiti as a major transshipment point for Colombian cocaine to enter the United States. The agency estimates that a ton of cocaine comes through Haiti to the United States every month.

In June, the New York Times reported that American officials in Haiti suspected Haitian military leaders of taking bribes and enabling transshipment of cocaine from Colombia, some earning hundreds of thousands of dollars every month (Howard French, "U.S. Says Haiti's Military Runs Cocaine," New York Times, June 8, 1994, p. A15; NewsBriefs, July 1994, p. 6). Aristide has said in the past that the country's military is able to remain in power because of drug cartel subsidies.