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Monday, April 24, 2017

Haitian National Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Launder Money Derived from Drug Trafficking



A former high-ranking Haitian National Police officer pleaded guilty today in the United States to a money laundering charge in connection with an international narcotics scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Wright of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Donahue of  the DEA, Caribbean Division, and Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Guy Philippe, 49, of Haiti, appeared before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida, where he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering stemming from his receipt of cash payments derived from the proceeds of narcotics sales that occurred in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Altonaga in Miami on July 5, 2017.

“In addition to its other pernicious effects, drug trafficking corrupts public officials and important government institutions that form the foundation of every democracy.  Philippe – a former high-ranking official in the Haitian National Police – was on the payroll of the drug traffickers for years, receiving more than $1.5 million in bribe payments for protecting drug shipments,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco.  “The department’s investigation and prosecution of this case for more than a decade demonstrates its commitment to prosecuting all of those who facilitate the international drug trade, including the corrupt officials on the take, and that there is no place to hide from the U.S. justice system.”

“After evading law enforcement for over a decade, Guy Philippe's guilty plea demonstrates the unrelenting commitment of the U.S. government and our foreign counterparts to disrupt and dismantle transnational narco-trafficking and money laundering organizations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Greenberg.  “Philippe cast aside his duty to protect and serve the people of Haiti.  Instead, he abused his position of authority as a high-ranking Haitian National Police Officer to safeguard drug shipments and launder illicit trafficking proceeds.  The prosecution of those who abuse the public’s trust to facilitate criminal conduct remains a top priority for the U.S. and our Haitian law enforcement allies.”

“It is important that Philippe accepted responsibility for his criminal offenses against the United States and the people of Haiti for his involvement in criminal activities associated with drug trafficking,” said Special Agent in Charge Wright.  “With the increased strength of our law enforcement partners, both in the United States and abroad.  DEA will never abandon nor ever give up on seeking and bringing to justice those responsible for drug trafficking and the laundering of drug money, no matter how many years they attempt to evade capture.”    

 “This international investigation demonstrates the possibilities of success in identifying and producing significant prosecutorial evidence against members of drug trafficking organizations, money laundering organizations and corrupt public figures,” said Special Agent in Charge Donahue.  “Guy Philippe violated public trust and the confidence of the Haitian people and others throughout the Caribbean Region and the United States, by supporting and benefiting from drug trafficking organizations.   The arrest of Guy Philippe is a testament to the collective mission of our federal agencies and exceptional Foreign Police Units.  The Haitian Police, La Brigade de Lutte contre le Trafic de Stup√©fiants (BLTS), is commended for their continued hard work, dedication and assistance provided to the international law enforcement community.  This investigation sends a strong message to criminal organizations globally, that the law enforcement partners throughout the Eastern Caribbean Region will not rest until these violators are brought to justice.” 

“Today Mr. Philippe admitted to accepting bribes while employed as a high-ranking Haitian National Police Officer and to assisting a drug operation that brought cocaine into Miami,” said Special Agent in Charge Jackson.  “IRS-CI is pleased this longtime fugitive has admitted his role in the money laundering conspiracy and will now face the consequences of his actions. IRS-CI will continue to work alongside our global law enforcement partners and provide our financial investigative expertise to dismantle these international drug and money laundering organizations.”

According to admissions made in connection with the plea, beginning in the late 1990s, Philippe knowingly using his position as a high-ranking Haitian National Police Officer to provide protection for the shipments of drugs and drug proceeds arriving into Haiti in exchange for cash payments.  Philippe admitted that from approximately June 1999 to April 2003, he received between $1.5 and $3.5 million in bribes from drug traffickers, knowing that the payments he received constituted proceeds of cocaine sales that occurred in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States.  Philippe also admitted that he shared a portion of these payments with Haitian National Police officials and other security personnel to ensure their continued support for future drug shipments arriving into Haiti.  Philippe used these payments to purchase a residence in Broward County, Florida; and to support himself and to support his family in the United States.

In addition, Philippe wired proceeds derived from the sale of cocaine, in the amount of $376,000, from banks in Haiti and Ecuador to a joint bank account in Miami.  To avoid detection, Philippe used the names of others to wire the funds to his account.  Philippe further admitted that he arranged for over $70,000 in drug proceeds to be deposited into his account that were conducted in a series of deposits each less than $10,000 to avoid the U.S. federal reporting requirements. 

The DEA and IRS-CI investigated the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, DEA Port-au-Prince Country Office, Caribbean Field Division, U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement and Removal Operations, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami Office of Field Operations provided assistance in this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lynn M. Kirkpatrick and Andy R. Camacho of the Southern District of Florida and Senior Trial Counsel Mark A. Irish of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal partners commend the Government of Haiti, including the Ministry of Justice, Haitian National Police, and La Brigade de Lutte contre le Trafic de Stup√©fiants (BLTS) for upholding the rule of law and assisting U.S. counterparts.

This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

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