A major Haitian drug defendant who is helping federal agents investigate
alleged trafficking in deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s
administration is expected to plead guilty on cocaine-smuggling charges,
according to sources familiar with the case.
In a plea deal, Jean Eliobert Jasme faces 10 years to life imprisonment, up
to a $4 million fine and an unspecified amount of restitution, according to
the agreement reviewed by The Herald.
His sentencing on Tuesday will be for two drug conspiracy indictments issued
in Miami and New York that allege he moved thousands of kilos of cocaine
during the past decade from Colombia to Haiti. The cocaine was then smuggled
by others into the United States.
”The agreement has been signed,” Jasme’s attorney, Joaquin Fernandez, said
Monday. He said it will be formally filed before U.S. District Judge Marcia
Cooke at the hearing Tuesday in Miami.
A codefendant, Wista Louis, charged with arranging transportation for
cocaine shipments from Haiti to the United States, pleaded guilty Thursday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo declined to comment.
No evidence has been presented in federal court implicating Aristide, who is
in South Africa, in the alleged drug-smuggling conspiracy.
The government is building its case in part on the word of convicted drug
smugglers hoping to shave years off their prison terms, as well as
finger-pointing officials targeted in the crackdown.
Since Aristide’s ouster, the Haitian government has been cooperating with
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in turning over narcotics suspects
and official documents.
Jasme, 42, was expelled a year ago by Aristide under pressure from the DEA.
Also at that time, Aristide expelled two other trafficking suspects: Carlos
Ovalle, a Colombian accused of coordinating cocaine shipments, and Eddy
Aurelien, a former Miami resident and music promoter charged with
distributing crack cocaine.
Ovalle and Aurelian immediately pleaded guilty and started giving extensive
information to federal prosecutors, the DEA and the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement agents.
Their expulsion followed that of Beaudoin ”Jacques” Ketant in June 2003,
who pleaded guilty to smuggling 30 tons of cocaine from Haiti to the United
Ketant is helping federal authorities in order to reduce his sentence. Just
before Aristide’s ouster in late February, a Miami federal judge sentenced
Ketant to 27 years in prison and ordered him to pay $30 million in fines and
Ketant has since told federal investigators that he paid Aristide and his
former head of presidential palace security up to $500,000 a month to let
him land planes loaded with cocaine on a national route near Port-au-Prince.
Seven defendants have been named in recent criminal complaints or
indictments that allege they forced traffickers to pay hundreds of thousands
of dollars to protect their cocaine shipments or were actively involved in
smuggling drugs into the United States.
Four former Haitian law enforcement officials listed in one indictment are
Jean Nesly Lucien, National Police director; Rudy Therassan, National Police
commander; Evintz Brillant, Haitian anti-drug chief, and Romaine Lestin,
former Port-au-Prince airport police commander.
Others in custody are Oriel Jean, Aristide’s former bodyguard; ex-Haitian
Sen. Jean-Marie Fourel Celestin, and Jean Salim Batrony, a reputed drug