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Haitian Coup Leader to Face US Drug Charges

  • Associated Press

FILE - Guy Philippe laughs during an interview in Pestel, Haiti, Aug. 24, 2016. The fugitive candidate barely eluded U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in 2007. Philippe was arrested and extradited to the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges.

A Haitian coup leader who was recently elected senator in Haiti has been brought to the U.S. to face longstanding federal drug trafficking charges.

Guy Philippe was scheduled Friday to make his initial appearance in Miami federal court on a still-sealed indictment. Philippe, 48, was flown to the U.S. following his arrest Thursday in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince while he appeared on a live radio show.

Philippe faces several drug trafficking charges including conspiracy to import cocaine into the U.S., according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. He has long maintained his innocence and blamed the accusations on political enemies.

A former police chief in the city of Cap-Haitien, Philippe was a key part of a violent 2004 uprising that ousted then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Philippe had previously fled Haiti amid accusations that he was plotting a coup, then returned to help lead the rebellion.

Philippe, recently elected to the Haitian Senate but not yet sworn into office, has lived in recent years in a remote, mountainous part of southern Haiti where his extensive family and business connections appeared to protect him from authorities.

About 200 protesters took to the streets Thursday in the city of Jeremie to call for Philippe's release. Other pro-Philippe demonstrators gathered outside a heavily guarded police station where he was taken shortly after his arrest.

Radio host Gary-Pierre Paul Charles told The Associated Press the police who arrested Philippe were members of the Haitian anti-drug unit and fired shots into the air to disperse a crowd that had gathered.

"It was shocking. People were running everywhere,'' he told the AP.

It wasn't immediately clear if Philippe is represented by a U.S. lawyer.

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