Haiti

Cocaine kingpin Jacques Ketant back in Haiti

Beaudouin “Jacques” Ketant was sentenced to 27 years in a U.S. prison for smuggling cocaine between Haiti and the United States. He has been deported to Haiti after having his sentenced chopped in half earlier this year.
Beaudouin “Jacques” Ketant was sentenced to 27 years in a U.S. prison for smuggling cocaine between Haiti and the United States. He has been deported to Haiti after having his sentenced chopped in half earlier this year.

Beaudouin “Jacques” Ketant, a convicted Haitian cocaine trafficker who accused former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of turning a blind eye to the cocaine coming through what he called a “narco-state,” has been deported to Haiti.

Ketant arrived in Port-au-Prince Tuesday along with 16 other deportees aboard a special U.S. government flight, a police source told the Miami Herald. The flight then flew from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic to drop off 50 Dominican deportees.

Upon his arrival, Ketant was immediately taken into custody by the Haitian National Police and then released after a relative took responsibility for him. Before leaving the police station, Ketant was fingerprinted and photographed, according to procedure.

Ketant’s return to Haiti comes four days after a Miami jury convicted a Haitian National Police commander, Claude “Teleco” Thelemaque, on a drug-trafficking conspiracy charge. Thelemaque, who faces up to life in prison, is the latest Haitian law enforcement officer to be taken down in a saga dating back more than a decade when Ketant helped exposed Haiti as a “narco-state.”

Considered the Pablo Escobar of Haiti, Ketant lived a lavish lifestyle in Haiti, where he was an untouchable kingpin until Aristide gave in to U.S. pressure in 2003 and expelled him. He was soon sentenced to 27 years in prison after pleading guilty to smuggling 30 tons of cocaine from Haiti to the United States.

Among Ketant’s claims to federal investigators: He paid Aristide and the former head of presidential palace security up to $500,000 a month to let him land planes loaded with cocaine on a national highway. Aristide was never charged and his lawyers have always maintained his innocence.

In April, a federal judge cut Ketant’s sentence in half upon the recommendation of the U.S. attorney's office in Miami because he had provided “substantial assistance” in helping prosecutors convict a dozen fellow traffickers, Haitian government officials and police officers.

Ketant had hoped to remain in the United States because of the potential danger he could face should he return to Haiti. But his U.S. criminal defense attorneys said he decided to abandon his immigration fight and asked to return to Haiti after learning that the U.S. government would not support his stay while fighting deportation.

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