[Portion from Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations of the Committee On Foreign Relations, United States Senate, December 1988 aka The Kerry Committee Report]



By 1985, the cartels began to seek additional transit points for cocaine coming to the United States. A natural candidate was the island country just south of the Bahamas - Haiti.

Haiti is a particularly appealing option for drug traffickers because of its location, its weak and corrupt government, and its unstable political situation. The Island of Hispaniola on which Haiti is located, is on the most direct route - barring transit of Cuba - from Colombia to the United States. Haiti has harbors and inlets which afford excellent protection to drug smuggling vessels. Moreover, the Haitian Air Force has no radar facilities and does not routinely patrol Haitian airspace. Drug planes can take off and land freely at any of the island's numerous secondary airstrips.

Since the day of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Haiti's government has been notorious for its corruption. The Duvalier family and their associates profited enormously from the protection of many illegal enterprises, including narcotics trafficking. However, until 1987, most of the drug smuggling through Haiti was conducted by individual transportation' organizations which made their own arrangements with the Haitian government officials.


Following the departure of Baby "Doc" Duvalier and the presidential elections of 1987, the Colombians took advantage of the complete breakdown of government institutions and began to move into the country in force. They focused their efforts on corrupting key military officers who were in a position to assure that there would be no interference with their operations.

According to DEA intelligence, the number of Colombian narcotics traffickers residing in Haiti has been growing daily and the narcotics organizations are now using Haiti as a base of operations, storage site and staging area. In addition, these organizations are buying up legitimate businesses to serve as front companies for their smuggling operations. Once having gained access to local commerce, they then focus on corrupting public officials to protect their interests.

The Subcommittee heard a detailed account of the process the Colombians used to establish themselves in Haiti from Osvaldo Quintana, a Cuban-American who became involved in drug smuggling from Haiti to Miami. Quintana later testified about his experience before a Federal grand jury in Miami. He explained that the Colombians established a working relationship with Colonel Jean-Claude Paul by working through a Haitian named Cardozo. The Colombians agreed to pay Colonel Paul, the commander of the Desallines Barracks, for protection and for the use of runway on his ranch for cocaine flights. Command of the Desallines Barracks allowed Colonel Paul to play a pivotal role in Haitian politics because this force is the elite unit responsible for the protection of the Presidential Palace. Colonel Paul's influence was very much in evidence during the 1987 election, when much of the violence was attributed to soldiers and security officials known as Tontons Macoute acting under his direction.

According to Quintana' the payoffs to Paul were to be made by Cardozo on a shipment by shipment basis. In October, 1986, Colonel Paul became dissatisfied with the amount of money he was receiving and seized a shipment of drugs in protest. The Colombians investigated the seizure and found that their middle man, Cardozo, had been pocketing most of what they thought he had been paying Colonel Paul. The Colombians sent a team of gangsters to Haiti and brought Cardozo back to Colombia, where they brutally beat him for his "theft". The money was repaid and Paul's demands were satisfied.

Quintana also told the Subcommittee about the efforts Colonel Paul, his wife Marie Mireille Delinois, and his brother made to establish their own cocaine distribution system in Miami. Roger Biamby, a Haitian community leader in Miami, told the Subcommittee that Colonel Paul and other military officers owned ships which sailed between Miami and Haiti carrying cocaine.

Quintana's testimony coupled with that of other witnesses led to the indictment for cocaine trafficking of Colonel Paul and his wife by a federal grand jury in Miami. However, once indicted, they could not be prosecuted because there is not an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Haiti. Further, the Haitian constitution in effect at the time prohibited the extradition of Haitian nationals.

Richard Holwill, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Caribbean Affairs was questioned by the Subcommittee on the decision to go forward with the indictment and the issue of coordination between the Departments of State and Justice. He said that the extradition issue and the problem of actually bringing Colonel Paul to trial in the United States was not fully resolved in the pre-indictment meetings between State and Justice.

Confronted with a situation where an important military official with a central role in the Haitian government was protecting the narcotics trade, the United States tried to pressure the President of Haiti, Leslie Manigat, to have Colonel Paul removed from the military. However, a coup drove President Manigat from office on June 20, 1988, and Colonel Paul continued to play a prominent role in the armed forces.

Political chaos continued after the first coup which placed General Henri Namphy at the head of the government. On September 18' 1988 a second coup removed General Namphy and brought Colonel Prosper Avril to power. Avril was installed as the new President and Colonel Paul was finally forced to resign. On November 7, 1988, Colonel Paul was found dead. His wife, Marie Mireille Delinois, under indictment in Miami for drug dealing, was detained by Haitian authorities as the murder suspect.


Roger Biamby testified that government officials in Haiti use a Miami branch of the Tontons Macoute to terrorize the local Haitians into cooperating with smuggling operations. Biamby said that the Miami based Tonton Macoutes are controlled by Lionel Wooley, a Haitian national residing in Miami's Little Haiti. According to federal law enforcement officials in Miami, Wooley's gangsters protect crack houses and crack processing plants. They protect the drug shipments, the cash proceeds from drug sales and they insure the silence of the Haitians who have been used to unload drug shipments from the boats on the Miami River.


The Miami police and Drug Enforcement Agency have had great difficulty in development of prosecutable cases against the principal Haitian traffickers in Miami. In order to penetrate the close-knit Haitian society, the authorities rely on wiretaps, informants and undercover operations. However, law enforcement agencies employ a limited number of French-Creole speaking officers, and undercover operations have been limited as a result. DEA regional chief Tom Cash testified that DEA operations in Haiti were also affected by this problem.

In Haiti, DEA participates with a Haitian surveillance unit in watching the Port au Prince airport. However, according to testimony before the Subcommittee, the drugs rarely come through the airport, but are instead moved by private ship and plane through other transshipment points. Even if the surveillance provided useful information, U.S. Attorney Gregorie argued that Haiti lacks an honest police force and army to make arrests and punish offenders. Moreover, when Haitian authorities seize drugs from traffickers, the smugglers are not only set free, but the narcotics, instead of being destroyed, are often re-sold by the authorities. In characterizing the Haitian governmental structure, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Holwill observed that ". . . there is no central government . . . no judicial system . . . and the local army commanders function as feudal lords."

The weakness of governmental institutions in Haiti has made it extremely difficult for the DEA to carry out its mission. The DEA regional chief, Tom Cash, testified that his agency had developed a joint DEA-Haiti Narcotics Center for Information Coordination. He then conceded that because there are no corresponding institutional structures-such as a navy or coast guard-to tackle the narcotics problem, the information center didn't mean much. He acknowledged, DEA efforts in Haiti are "rudimentary at best."


There is little hope that serious inroads can be made into the Colombian narcotics trafficking through Haiti until legitimate democratization efforts are undertaken. As long as the Haitian military continues to control virtually every government institution, including the Judiciary and law enforcement agencies, the cartels will continue to operate unchallenged in that country.

However, there are steps which could be taken to make it more difficult for Haitians to run their cocaine distribution networks in the United States. One of these might include an immediate review by the Department of State of visas which have been granted to Haitians residing in Miami who are suspected of being involved in the d rug trade. For example, two witnesses identified Lionel Wooley as running the Tontons Macoute in Miami and controlling a major cocaine distribution network. He resides in Miami on a U.S. issued visa. His case should be carefully reviewed to determine whether he has committed acts incompatible with his immigration status.

In addition, a major effort should be undertaken by drug enforcement agencies to train specialists in the Haitian dialect. There are few law enforcement officials with this skill, which has been a major obstacle to developing effective intelligence operations directed at the Haitian distribution networks.

Direct, government-to-government assistance, with the exception of humanitarian assistance provided through private and voluntary agencies, should continue to be prohibited to Haiti until legitimate democratization efforts are underway.