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DEA report documents Haitian drug traffic D.C. seems to ignore.

SAN FRANCISCO -- At stake in the U.S. confrontation with the Haitian military regime is a cocaine-smuggling operation that earns millions of dollars for Haitian military officials while dumping tons of the deadly white powder on American streets. Yet while the United States debates the merits of armed intervention in Haiti, the Clinton administration has remained mum on the Haitian "drug connection."

A confidential report by the Drug Enforcement Agency obtained by Pacific News Service describes Haiti as 'a major transshipment point" for cocaine traffickers who funnel drugs from Colombia and the Dominican Republic into the United States -- with the knowledge and active involvement of high military officials and the business elite.

The corruption of the Haitian military "is substantial enough to hamper any significant drug investigation' that tries to dismantle illicit drug operations inside Haiti, the report states. Echoing the reports findings, exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide recently blamed the military's role in the drug trade for his ouster.

Despite extensive DEA intelligence documenting it, Haiti's drug role has never been raised publicly by the Clinton administration; nor was it raised by the Bush administration. Now critics of U.S. policy on Haiti, including one congressman, are questioning that silence, suggesting it reflects de facto U.S. support for the Haitian military and a reluctance to offer unqualified support for Aristide.

"I've been amazed that our government has never talked about the drug trafficking ... even though it is obviously one of the major reasons why these people drove their president out of the country and why they are determined not to let him back in. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal profits that are having disastrous consequences for the American people," says Rep. John Conyers, D. Mich.

Larry Burns, head of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs based in Washington, claims,"From the moment Aristide was overthrown two years ago, Washington has equivocated on whether it wanted him back or not." To secure the military as an anchor to Aristide's sail," Burns charges, Washington "turned a blind eye to the corruption charges and pretended that it could be reformed through professionalization and U.S. training."

A senior administration official at the National Security Council dismissed that charge, but when asked why the administration had failed to publicize DEA allegations of drug trafficking, the spokesman had no comment.

In November 1987, the DEA established a Country Office in Port-au-Prince to assist the Haitian government with its antinarcotics activities. Throughout Aristide's brief tenure in office, DEA agents worked closely with Haitian military narcotics services, investigating an illegal cocaine network estimated to be moving $300 million to $500 million worth of cocaine into the United States every year. The DEA office was shut down after the 1991 coup, but it reopened in the fall of 1992. Soon after DEA intelligence prompted the arrest of a member of Haiti's CIA-linked National Intelligence, DEA local agent Tony Greco received death threats from a man identifying himself as the boss of the arrested National Intelligence member.

A congressional source familiar with the DEA's history in Haiti told PNS that Greco had connected Lt. Colonel Michel Francois, the current chief of police, to the drug-trafficking operations in Haiti. Francois is alleged to be behind the current campaign of terror.

What disturbs Conyers is that none of this information ever reached the public. "By turning a deaf ear to what is obviously a prime force behind Aristide's ouster, we raise questions about our own involvement in drug activities," Conyers says. He is investigating why the ships and aircraft needed to sustain such a large operation have evaded detection and interdiction, while the U.S. government has to spot, stop and turn back almost every ramshackle boat carrying refugees.

Indeed the DEA report shows that after the 1991 coup sent Aristide into exile, there were virtually no major seizures of cocaine from Haiti as compared to nearly 4,000 pounds seized in 1990.

Michael Levine, author of Deep Cover and a decorated DEA agent with 25 years of experience fighting drugs overseas, said what was going on in Haiti was "just another example of elements of the U.S. government protecting killers, drug dealers and dictators for the sake of some political end that's going to cost a whole bunch of kids in this country their lives.

"I saw the drug traffickers take over the government of Bolivia in 1980, ironically with the assistance of the CIA, and we (the DEA) just packed up our office and went home."
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Title Annotation:U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
Author:Bernstein, Dennis
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Nov 12, 1993
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