Originally: Trafficker to help investigation of cocaine dealings in Aristide government

One of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted Caribbean drug smugglers switched sides in federal court on Tuesday, agreeing to help U.S. prosecutors investigating cocaine corruption in the administration of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Jean Eliobert Jasme, 42, pleaded guilty in Miami to two counts of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. The charges were contained in separate indictments out of Miami and Brooklyn. He could receive 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine when U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke sentences him Nov. 9.

Under a plea agreement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo agreed to recommend a shorter sentence if Jasme provides useful information. The prosecutor would not discuss specifics, but the investigation is an open secret and already has resulted in arrests and indictments of some of Aristide’s key political and law enforcement leaders.

Jasme agreed to appear at grand jury proceedings, hearings and trials, to provide documents and to work undercover if asked. He also agreed to forfeit a house in Elmont, N.Y.

Jasme was among the first drug traffickers expelled from Haiti under DEA pressure in the months before the Aristide government fell. He initially refused to cooperate but had a change of heart in June, signaling he would plead guilty in a request to transfer his case from Brooklyn to Miami, where he was in custody.

Calling Jasme “one of the top-level traffickers in Haiti,” Loo linked him to Colombian suppliers, nine Haitian distributors and several boatloads of cocaine seized on the Miami River in 2000. He also linked Jasme to cocaine seized at Miami International Airport.

Once the owner of a construction business, Jasme began working the cocaine trade in the early 1990s under Daniel Level, receiving shipments from Colombian suppliers on the south coast of Haiti. He began dealing directly with the Colombians after Level and a co-conspirator, Horacio Revollo-Pacheco, were arrested in 2001, Loo said.

The New York indictment was filed nearly a year ago, as was the Miami indictment, which alleged a conspiracy dating to 1992. The Miami indictment case also charged Wista Louis, 43, who pleaded guilty and also is to be sentenced Nov. 9.

Jasme was expelled from Haiti at the same time as two other cooperating cocaine-traffickers — Carlos Ovalle, a Colombian who lived in Haiti and coordinated shipments, and Eddy Aurelien, a music promoter and former Miami resident.

Their expulsions followed that of Beaudouin “Jacques” Ketant, who pleaded guilty to smuggling 30 tons of cocaine in the United States. Ketant is cooperating, hoping to reduce his 27-year sentence.

During a tirade at his sentencing, Ketant said he paid off Aristide, who he said turned Haiti into a “narco-country.”

Since Aristide left Haiti, several former police and government officials have been arrested by U.S. authorities, some with the help of officials in Haiti.

Among those indicted are former Haitian National Police director Jean Nesly Lucien ; former commander Rudy Therassan ; former anti-drug chief Evintz Brillant and former Port-au-Prince airport commander Romaine Lestin. Others in custody include former palace police chief Oriel Jean, and former Haitian Sen. Jean-Marie Fourel Celestin.