A Haitian sought by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for drug trafficking and money laundering was elected senator in his home country, an illustration of the perverse disconnect between the law and its lawmakers in that island nation.

The preliminary results of the senate election in Haiti’s Grand Anse province held on November 20, indicate that Guy Philippe won a six-year term in the legislative body, reported The Guardian and other news outlets.

The British newspaper noted that Philippe, a former police officer who speaks four languages and participated in the 2004 coup against then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has not only been accused of extrajudicial killings by Human Rights Watch, but also holds an outstanding arrest warrant from the US government for conspiracy to import cocaine and money laundering. He also appears on the Miami Division DEA’s most wanted list.

On top of these US accusations of drug-related activities, Philippe is reportedly facing a Haitian arrest warrant for his alleged involvement in a deadly May 2016 attack against the Les Cayes police station. One of the apprehended assailants claimed Philippe had organized the assault.

InSight Crime Analysis

Haiti has long been a hub for drug trafficking and drug traffickers. The criminals’ relationship with power, however, is normally less visible and obvious than Philippe’s has long been.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

Philippe organized a rebel faction in 2004, in the runaway province of Gonaives, as multiple groups worked to overthrow then President Aristide. After Aristide was ushered from the country in what some observers and the former president himself called a United States coup d’etat, Philippe tried to position himself to take power. He ran for president in 2006, but lost badly.

Then he was isolated politically. His enemies pounced. In 2007, the DEA and Haitian authorities tried and failed to capture him, forcing him to move back to his home town, Pestel, according to a New York Times report.  

By 2016, he had repositioned himself as a power broker, reportedly issuing threats about another rebellion. Instead, he ran for senate and won. His Facebook page showed a picture of a glowing Philippe alongside a picture of the official results with a message.

“My fellow citizens,” he wrote, “Together, we will go and live with a belief in the homeland.” 

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Steven Dudley is the co-founder and co-director of InSight Crime and a senior research fellow at American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies in Washington, DC. In 2020, Dudley...

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