Jamaicans, Cubans held in Haiti on drug charges could be freed for lack of evidence

Published on by Joe Colas (author)

Jamaicans, Cubans and Colombians held on drug charges in Haiti (photo: Guyler C. Delva)
Jamaicans, Cubans and Colombians held on drug charges in Haiti

Haitian judicial authorities could soon release 3 Jamaicans and 2 Cubans detained on suspected drug trafficking in Haiti for lack of evidence and would now only consider illegal immigration charges against the foreigners who do not have the proper documents to enter the Caribbean country.

Mark Reid, Fenton Johnson and Mark Pitt, from Jamaica, and Juan Rafael Hidalgo and Alexis Leyva Moreno, from Cuba, were arrested and detained last month because they were believed to have been involved in drug trafficking activities near the southern island of Ile-a-Vache, off the city of Les Cayes.

The suspects were taken to the anti-drug unit headquarters in the capital Port-au-Prince where they were detained for several weeks and submitted to routine questioning, before being returned recently to Les Cayes (188 km south of Port-au-Prince) for further judicial proceedings.

Judicial authorities told HCNN on Tuesday that the 3 Jamaicans and the 2 Cubans, firstly wrongly believed to be Colombians, could be released following a session that will be held soon, at the Magistrate's court in Les Cayes.

"When they were arrested they were not actually found in possession of narcotics and we don't have enough evidence to keep them on such charges," a magistrate, familiar with case, told HCNN on condition of anonymity because not legally authorized to publicly talk about the case at this stage.

"Since they have entered the country illegally, I believe this is the only charge that can be discussed and I believe they will be released," said the judge, explaining that after their release they would have to leave the country or regularize their situation with relevant authorities.

Anti-drug police agents had believed that the Jamaicans could have been involved in a drug deal with a wanted alleged Haitian trafficker they were in touch with by telephone as they maneuvered in Haitian waters towards Ile-a-Vache.

The suspects have denied any involvement in drug trafficking and claimed that Haitian authorities were mistaken about them, when they thought "we could be part of Colombian drug dealers networks."

"They arrested us because they thought we were Colombians since we speak Spanish, but we had no drug" Alexis Leyva Moreno, also speaking on behalf of his country-fellow, told HCNN.

Jamaicans often use small boats to ship marijuana to Haiti through the country's southern coasts which are very close to Jamaica.

2 of the Jamaicans detained, Mark Reid and Fenton Johnson, said they were only paid to offer transportation to the Cubans who wanted to travel to Haiti, while the third Jamaican, Mark Pitt, who is fluent in Haitian Creole, said he has been living in Haiti for a long time.

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