US blacklists two top Haitian politicians as ‘drug traffickers’

US blacklists two top Haitian politicians as ‘drug traffickers’


The United States imposed sanctions on two leading Haitian politicians, former Senate President Joseph Lambert and former Senator Youri Latortue, accusing them of being longtime drug traffickers.

The US Treasury Department said Lambert, who ran for the presidency last year, and Latortue, formerly a senior security official, “have abused their official positions for drug trafficking and colluded with criminal and gang networks to undermine the rule of law in Haiti.” “

In a parallel statement that blacklisted Lambert from the State Department, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the powerful politician had been involved in “significant corruption and a gross violation of human rights.”

Blinken said there was also credible evidence that Lambert was behind an extrajudicial killing.

The announcements, which said Canada was also sanctioning the two, came as the international community sought to help the Haitian government restore order and regain control of key port facilities after a spike in gang violence.

Since mid-September, armed gangs have virtually paralyzed Haiti, including blockading the country’s main oil terminal, leaving fuel and drinking water shortages.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council there was an urgent need to follow up on a proposal to send an international peacekeeping force to Haiti to deal with the “nightmare” there.

John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Friday talks about a multinational force for Haiti are underway.

“We are actively involved in talking to a variety of partners about what a force might look like,” he said.

“No decisions were made about the participation of any particular state,” he said, adding that the force is limited to “delivering humanitarian assistance.”

– Gangs and Drugs –

Both Lambert and Latortue have been accused of having close ties to gangs.

A secret 2006 US diplomatic memo, leaked by Wikileaks in 2010, said Latortue was “perhaps the most brazenly corrupt Haitian leader”.

It identified him as the “first cousin once removed” of former Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.

The Treasury Department said Lambert and Latortue had a long history of drug trafficking.

Both were deeply involved in trafficking cocaine from Colombia and Haiti, protecting other traffickers and ordering their followers to commit acts of violence on their behalf.

“The United States and our international partners will continue to crack down on those who facilitate drug trafficking, enable corruption and seek to profit from instability in Haiti,” Treasury Secretary Brian Nelson said in a statement.

Kirby said US authorities “stand ready to take additional action against other bad actors, if necessary.”

Treasury Department sanctions aim to seize all assets the named persons have under US jurisdiction and prevent any US person or entity, including international banks with US branches, from doing business with them.

The State Department designation generally prohibits them from entering the United States. The State Department also blacklisted Lambert’s wife, Jesula Lambert Domond.

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