PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – Haitian authorities say the proprietor of the Kaliko Beach Club hotel is being uncooperative, defiant and boastful even. And although 18 arrests were made on Sunday during the police operation, as of Monday evening only, nine, all Haitian nationals, involved in the child-trafficking ring were still in police custody.
The capital city’s chief prosecutor, Government Commissioner Jean Danton Leger, said the hotel owner is being defiant, “la p ouvri ko l“, in essence raising his voice with a certain “frekansite” or sass. The less than uncooperative hotelier which had at least 31 girls, youngest found to be aged 10, in one room, was eventually released.
Dwindling Number of Those Arrested
The spokeswoman for the commissioner’s office, Substitute Commissioner Mirlande D. Prévost, who was present at Sunday’s police operation, initially reported that 18 adults tied to the child-trafficking ring had been arrested. By that evening, Commissioner Leger had, and has since, been saying 12 adults were arrested. By Monday morning, in an interview with Marie Lucie Bonhomme Opont of Vision 2000, police spokesman, Inspector Gary Desrosiers, said 9 had been arrested.
Senator Jean Renel Senatus (PONT/Ouest) believes the foreign participants somehow escaped. None the less, he congratulated the police units which participated in the sting at Kaliko Beach Club. Senator Senatus said the first information he received was that foreigners were involved in the child-trafficking.
Mr. Senatus, a former Government Commissioner of Port-au-Prince who became known for his aggressive actions against juvenile delinquency, said he made it a point to go to police headquarters to verify the information. He told a journalist Monday morning, “you know in Haiti, there are vagabons who are arrested, who have powerful authorities who call to have them liberated. I didn’t want this to happen so I went there to secure the investigation.”
He said when he arrived at police headquarters there were 31 girls sitting in the hallway. Their ages were from 13-20 but he said even for the older ones, one can’t be certain cause you don’t see the age in their face. He said the girls looked in bad rundown shape. Critical tot he investigation, the senator said the girls told them they were approached by “blan“, which translates to “white” but also can just mean foreigner. He said the individuals approached them near a restaurant in the district of Petion-Ville even with a cake in hand. The girls were asked to join them for a party at the beach.
According to Senator Senatus, the girls said “fok blan yo arret tou“, “the whites should be arrested also”. The girls said these persons should be made to compensate them for what they have been through and that they want to go home.
Commissioner Leger, also in the aforementioned live interview with Madame Opont, that followed Inspector Desrosier’s, said 12 had been arrested. But by that afternoon, in other interviews, he said he spent Monday issuing departure bans against the other suspected participants. He added that he could only hope they were still in the country by the time the bans were ordered.
Police Findings at Scene of Arrests
Mr. Leger also provided details on the sting in several interviews he held throughout the day. He says Room 158, where the adults were found, adjacent to Room 155 where the “33” girls were, substances resembling cocaine and marijuana were recovered. This is interesting because such drugs, especially cocaine, is not widely used in Haiti. It is not easily purchased in retail in non-producing third-world countries, like Haiti. Although such countries like Haiti are trafficking routes for narcotics to the U.S. and Canada, usage of the costly drugs are rare.
The commissioner also said that a laptop was seized at the scene. He said there are photos and videos of adults participating in what he described as “abuse” and sexual acts with minors, not of the some 31 who rescued at the hotel. He says he is more certain than ever that the “child-trafficking”, as he called it, that was thwarted at Kaliko Beach Club, includes sex-trafficking and the sex-trade. For his assistant, Madame Prévost, findings in the laptop, drugs and currencies at the scene hint to a “large network”, she said.
It was through the help of “missionaries” in Haiti that police were tipped off of the activities in December. Both Commissioner Leger and Inspector Desrosiers have confirmed this. They said that these foreignors were approached by individuals offering them minors. It was then that the investigation was launched.
Through interrogations with the girls at the Central Directorate of Judicial Police (DCPJ; Haiti’s FBI), the girls, police say they learned that some were coaxed with invitations by the Haitian suspects to take part in a party on a yacht and take flights aboard a helicopter. Police say neither of the vehicles were confirmed to be in the area. The suspect the foreign parties had intended to take the children out of the country where then they could be subject to kidnapping, sexual exploitation and/or organ farming.
The Haitian citizens arrested in participation told police they were expected to be paid $300 [USD] for bringing each girl offered. The bus driver says he asked no questions about transporting the girls to the hotel. He says he was paid $400 [USD] for the job. A relatively significant pay day.