Haitian businessman pleads not guilty in Miami to U.S. drug charges

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 29, 2013 6:33 PM

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Haitian businessman pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges in federal court in Miami on Monday, days after he was arrested in a luxury hotel in the Dominican Republic.

U.S. law enforcement officials took Rodolphe Jaar into custody on Saturday after he was extradited to the United States, said Mia Ro, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Jaar, who lives in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, is involved in several businesses in Haiti and an agriculture association which last year entered into a project with the country's agricultural ministry and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

He is also named as a director of Florida-based United Foam and Plastic LLC, according to state records.

In a federal indictment, U.S. prosecutors accused Jaar, who they said is also known as "Whiskey," of conspiring with several other people to distribute five kilograms (11 pounds) or more of cocaine in the United States.

Richard Dansoh, an attorney for Jaar, said his client denies the charges.

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Officials with the Dominican Republic's anti-drug agency arrested Jaar in Santo Domingo last week.

About 4 percent of the cocaine that is smuggled into the United States passes through the Caribbean island of Hispaniola which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, according to the U.S. Department of State's annual narcotics control report for 2012.

(Additional reporting by Manuel Jimenez in Santo Domingo, writing by Kevin Gray, editing by G Crosse)