Haitian politician arrested over U.S. cocaine trafficking charges

Police surrounded the area where senator-elect Guy Philippe was arrested a few minutes before in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 5, 2017. Philippe, who is wanted by the United States for cocaine trafficking and money laundering, was arrested by Haitian anti-drug police. Photo by Bahare Khodabande/European Pressphoto Agency

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 6 (UPI) — Guy Philippe, a Haitian politician facing U.S. drug charges who once led a coup d’etat as a soldier, was arrested after participating in a radio show in Port-au-Prince and transferred to U.S. authorities.

Philippe, 48, was transferred to the custody of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents late Thursday. U.S. federal authorities will transport Philippe from Haiti to Miami.

Haitian anti-drug officers fired several shots in the 10-minute effort to arrest Philippe outside of the Scoop FM radio station in Port-au-Prince’s Petionville suburb.

Philippe recently was elected to serve a six-year term as senator in the Haitian parliament to represent the Grand’Anse area. Philippe would have been entitled to immunity from arrest or prosecution during his term in office. Newly elected Haitian lawmakers were set to be sworn in on Monday.

Philippe led a rebellion in 2004 that removed Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the presidency. In 2005, the DEA filed a sealed indictment charging Philippe with conspiracy to import cocaine and money laundering, allegations which Philippe denies.

“I am happy and I am sad,” Pierre Esperance, a human rights activist in Haiti who’d criticized Philippe’s election, told the Miami Herald. “I am happy to see that people like Guy Philippe, who are trying to get immunity to enter the parliament, won’t have a chance to. It’s a good small step in the battle against corruption and impunity in the country. But he is not alone. There are many others like him, bandits, criminals, drug traffickers, who have been elected deputies and senators.”

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