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Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Haitian police say US anti-drug agency carried out operation
By The Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Haitian police said Tuesday that U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents carried out an operation in the Caribbean country but did not confirm reports that the target was an ex-rebel leader allegedly linked to drug trafficking.

National Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours told The Associated Press that the DEA worked in conjunction with Haitian anti-drug agents Monday in the southern coastal town of Les Cayes, home to former rebel leader Guy Philippe.

"I have been told that DEA agents and (Haitian) drug agents conducted an operation in Les Cayes. I do not know the nature of the operation," Lerebours said in a telephone interview.

Private broadcaster Radio Metropole reported Monday night that agents captured Philippe after swooping in on his home with five helicopters and two planes. But the station later changed its report and said he was still being sought.

DEA officials and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince have declined to comment. The U.S. drug agency has conducted operations in Haiti in the past.

Lerebours said DEA and Haitian anti-drug officers also arrested local businessman Lavaud Francois on Monday in the northwestern town of Gonaives, a gritty port town considered to be a base for drug traffickers. Francois, who is believed to be in custody in Port-au-Prince, owns a hotel and radio station in Gonaives.

Lerebours said he had no information about Philippe, who helped topple former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and ran for president in 2006.

Henriot Toussaint, the police commander in southern Haiti, also confirmed the presence of DEA agents in the country but said "I don't know anything about an operation to arrest Guy Philippe."

Philippe was the police chief of Haiti's second largest city, Cap-Haitien, but fled the country in 2000 after being accused of plotting a coup.

Aristide called Philippe and other rebels "terrorists," and accused them of ties to drug traffickers who use Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic to reach the U.S.

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