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17550: Hermantin: Haitian drug trafficker offering names to get shorter U.S. term (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Fri, Dec. 12, 2003

Haitian drug trafficker offering names to get shorter U.S. term
A major Haitian drug trafficker is offering to cooperate with U.S. officials
about his ties to political, police and military officials in Haiti -- for a
reduced sentence.

One of Haiti's most politically connected drug lords is facing 22 to 27
years in prison and will hand over more than $15 million in cash and
property under the terms of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors said

Jacques Beaudoin Ketant, 42, was extradited from Haiti and handed over to
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in July. He pleaded guilty in
August to conspiracy to import cocaine and launder drug money.

'If you took out your Funk & Wagnalls [dictionary], Mr. Ketant's picture
would be next to the word `kingpin,' '' said federal prosecutor John
Kastranakes. ``He lived in the lap of luxury in a $5 million home in Haiti
in a country that is surrounded by squalor.''

Kastranakes asked U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno to give Ketant a
sentence above the 22-year minimum required under the sentencing guidelines,
to reflect the vast quantities of drugs smuggled and the paying off of
government agents in the United States and Haiti.

Ketant has offered to cooperate with U.S. officials about his ties to
high-ranking political, police and military officials in Haiti, his Miami
lawyer said.

But attorney Ruben Oliva said he doesn't believe U.S. officials have the
political will to challenge the government of Haitian President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Moreno delayed the final sentencing until Feb. 25. The judge wanted to
ensure that Ketant pays all three of his prior lawyers before the government
seizes his bank accounts, and to guarantee he continues helping the United
States find and convert his assets -- homes, gas stations, a disco -- amid
the deteriorating conditions in Haiti.

''He's agreeing to give up all of his houses,'' Kastranakes said, ``But, as
of now, we have nothing.''

Prosecutor Karen Moore said that shortly after Ketant's arrest, one of his
five ex-wives, escorted by a police chief, apparently stole $5 million in
cash and $1 million worth of Haitian art from his $8 million hilltop mansion
above Port-au-Prince. That home, she said, may be turned over to a Haitian

Ketant, 42, confessed to helping smuggle at least 30 tons of Colombian
cocaine into the United States between 1986 and 1997. Ketant was the primary
contact in Haiti for the Medellín, Cali and Northern Valley cartels for
years, operating several airstrips where large quantities of cocaine were
dropped. DEA agents say Ketant had a large crew of smugglers and
''swallowers'' who would move the drugs to Miami, Chicago and New York in
suitcases, boats and their stomachs. He also controlled a vast network of
military, police and customs officials in Haiti and the United States who
provided security information and were well paid to turn their heads away
when drugs were crossing their borders.

Ketant was last seen on the streets of New York in 1996 but escaped. He was
indicted in South Florida in 1997 but openly walked the streets of
Port-au-Prince without fear of being sent back to the United States.

Two codefendants -- a Colombian cocaine supplier and a Haitian immigration
official who turned a blind eye to drug shipments -- went to trial and
received life sentences from Moreno. Former Haitian police Chief Michel
''Sweet Mickey'' François is a fugitive in Honduras, outside the reach of
U.S. agents.

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