The United States has deported former cocaine kingpin Beaudouin “Jacques” Ketant back to Haiti, leaving their former star witness to an uncertain fate.
Despite fighting his deportation, Ketant was delivered to Haitian authorities, who later released him into the custody of a relative, reported The Miami Herald.
Ketant was originally sentenced to 27 years in prison after pleading guilty to smuggling 30 tons of cocaine from Haiti into the United States. In April 2015, a federal judge cut Ketant’s sentence in half for “substantial assistance” in helping prosecutors convict a dozen other traffickers, including police and government officials.
Prior to his expulsion from Haiti in 2003, Ketant was part of a group that worked with the Medellin Cartel and later the Norte del Valle Cartel, moving hundreds of tons of cocaine from Colombia, through Haiti and into the United States.
The group bribed local officials and police to facilitate drug shipments. Ketant even claims to have paid millions to controversial former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who Ketant says turned Haiti into a “narco-state.”
Aristide is currently under house arrest in Haiti, while authorities investigate his alleged involvement in corruption, money laundering, and drug trafficking.
InSight Crime Analysis
While Ketant’s lawyer said his client was “ecstatic” over his reduced sentence, Ketant is probably not celebrating his return to Haiti.
Earlier this year, Aristide’s former security chief, Oriel Jean, was killed in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. Like Ketant, Jean secured lighter sentencing from US courts in exchange for testifying against other traffickers. Despite reportedly keeping a low profile after returning to Haiti, Jean was gunned down by men on motorcycles in what some believe was a revenge killing.
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Additionally, Haiti’s criminal landscape has changed significantly since Ketant was last around. During his time in prison, the Colombian cartels Ketant worked with were dismantled. Other drug trafficking networks reportedly left Haiti after its catastrophic 2010 earthquake. Additionally, even though drug seizures have increased in the Caribbean, the US State Department still considers Central America the region’s main drug corridor.
With this context in mind, it appears Ketant has little to gain and everything to lose as he returns to Haiti.