US sanctions two Haitian politicians for drug trafficking

WASHINGTON (HPD) — The United States has sanctioned two Haitian politicians for allegedly abusing their positions to traffic drugs in collaboration with gang networks and inducing others to engage in violence.

The US Treasury Department announced Friday that it was imposing the sanctions on Haitian Senate President Joseph Lambert and former Senator Youri Latortue. Both were accused of abusing their official functions to participate in drug trafficking for decades. Lambert was also designated by the State Department for diplomatic sanctions and visa restrictions.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that “there is credible information that Lambert was involved in a serious human rights violation, namely an extrajudicial execution, during his tenure in government.”

He added that the State Department also designated Lambert’s wife, Jesula Lambert Domond, as subject to sanctions. That means that his properties in the United States have been blocked and that American people and companies that do business with them could also be reprimanded.

Spokesmen for Lambert and Latortue did not immediately return WhatsApp messages sent Friday seeking comment.

The US government announced the sanctions against Lambert and Latortue at a time when Haiti is engulfed in a wave of political violence and economic crisis.

Last month, Eric Jean Baptiste, a former presidential candidate and leader of a political party in Haiti, was shot dead in the capital, Port-au-Prince, along with his bodyguard. Baptiste’s death shocked many in the unstable island nation.

Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said Lambert and Latortue “abused their official positions to traffic drugs and collaborated with criminal and gang networks to undermine the rule of law in Haiti.”

“The United States and our international partners,” Nelson added, “will continue to take action against those who facilitate drug trafficking, enable corruption, and seek to profit from the instability in Haiti.”

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Associated Press reporter Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report

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