tfigueras@herald.com



The one-time security chief of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide arrived in Miami Friday night to face a drug-trafficking conspiracy charge.


Oriel Jean, detained earlier this month after arriving at a Toronto airport, waived extradition from Canada and boarded a commercial flight bound for Miami International Airport.


His traveling companions: an escort of Drug Enforcement Agency agents, said Special Agent Joe Kilmer.


Jean is charged in a criminal complaint with ”conspiring to import cocaine from outside the United States,” Kilmer said.


The arrest marks the first time a member of Aristide’s inner circle stands accused of drug-trafficking before a U.S. court. Aristide’s critics say he did little to prevent Haiti’s role as a conduit for Colombian cocaine bound for U.S. consumers.


Jean, appointed by Aristide as security chief of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, retained his post even after the United States withdrew his visa in 2002.


Jean has denied the drug-trafficking allegations, and his lawyer said he served merely as a bodyguard to Aristide.


On March 12, Jean and his wife flew into Toronto’s Pearson International Airport from the Dominican Republic.


Canadian authorities said Jean posed a danger to the Canadian public, citing his alleged link to organized crime and drug trafficking.


After landing in Miami, Jean was photographed, fingerprinted and processed at the DEA offices. He is currently at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami. Jean’s first court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday before a U.S. magistrate judge.