Aristide the Drug Lord?

A Haitian drug trafficker was sentenced to 27 years in prison last week. Beaudoin "Jacques" Ketant (search) was actually indicted in 1997. But he lived openly and flamboyantly in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince until June of this year. He admits to moving more than 30 tons of cocaine between Colombia and the U.S. in the last year alone. So how did he avoid capture for so long? Simple.

He says he was working for President Aristide. At his sentencing last week, Ketant, who is godfather to one of Aristide’s children, announced, “Aristide is a drug lord. He controlled the drug trade. He turned the country into a narco-country.” At another point, Ketant suggested the only reason he was captured in June was because he didn’t pay Aristide enough. “You either pay Aristide or you die,” he told the court.

Aristide’s lawyer in Miami claims this is all nonsense and that drug trafficking is not a significant problem in Haiti. But the DEA calls Haiti one of the “most significant trans-shipment countries for Colombian cocaine headed to the U.S.” It also notes that the Aristide government has “done very little to cooperate with the U.S. to interdict the flow of drugs.”

And that’s the Asman Observer!