The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two Haitian politicians for their involvement in drug trafficking.
The US Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on Joseph Lambert, “President of the Haitian Senate (for 20 years) who has held political office in Haiti,” and Youri Latortue, “a former Haitian senator and longtime politician.”
In addition, the State Department imposed visa sanctions on Lambert and his wife, making it mandatory for them to enter the US in general.
The action comes as the Haitian government, led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has called on the international community to offer support as the nation faces security and humanitarian crises.
Friday’s financial sanctions, imposed in coordination with Canada, target “two politicians who have abused their official positions to traffic drugs and cooperated with criminal networks and criminal groups to undermine the rule of law in Haiti,” the Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said. Brian Nelson said in a Treasury Department statement.
According to the statement, “Lambert used his position to direct and facilitate the trafficking of cocaine from Colombia to Haiti and to facilitate impunity in Haiti for other drug traffickers.”
“Lambert has also directed others to engage in violence in his name,” he said. “His drug trafficking, corrupt tactics and continued disregard for the rule of law have contributed to Haiti’s continued instability.”
“Like Lambert, Latortue has also had a long involvement in drug trafficking activities,” the statement says. “Latortu has been involved in the trafficking of cocaine from Colombia to Haiti and directed others to commit violence on his behalf.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement announcing the visa sanctions, said: “There is credible information that Lambert engaged in a serious human rights violation during his tenure in government, namely an extrajudicial killing.”
CNN has reached out to Lambert and Youri for comment.
US officials have spoken about the situation on the ground in Haiti, and Blinken predicted further sanctions at an event in Montreal last week with Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.
“We have a small minority on the problem who are controlling access to everything necessary to respond to the problems facing the people of Haiti. There are those who are being led by the elites, who are being financed, and the government does not control anything. So that people have access to potable water, medicines, ports and roads are blocked by these gangs and the elites who are controlling them – hence the sanctions that we will impose together to put pressure on the elites. who control the gangs,” he said.
In recent weeks, the United Nations adopted a security council resolution, proposed by the US and Mexico, to impose sanctions on Haiti’s criminal leaders.
The US and Mexico also co-sponsored another resolution that would “create a limited non-UN mission led by a partner country with the depth and expertise needed to make this effort effective,” according to the US ambassador. Linda Thomas-Greenfield to the UN.
So far, no nation has been identified to lead such a mission, and the potential for military intervention has been met with resistance.