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Marine found guilty of smuggling guns to Haiti in purported plot to become president

A U.S. Marine was found guilty of weapons smuggling in federal court. (Lucian Milasan/Dreamstime/TNS)
December 12, 2020

A U.S. Marine accused of traveling from North Carolina to Haiti with guns, ammunition and body armor was found guilty of weapons smuggling in federal court Thursday.

After a three-day trial, a jury found Jacques Yves Sebastien Duroseau, 34, guilty of conspiring to illegally export and smuggle firearms and controlled equipment from the U.S. to Haiti and transporting firearms without a license to the Haitian Army, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said in a news release.

“Duroseau, who previously held a position of trust within the Marine Corps, betrayed his service and deserves to be held accountable for his illicit attempt to smuggle weapons from the United States to Haiti for the purpose of training the Haitian military,” Special Agent in Charge Sean Devinny said in the release.

Duroseau was arrested Nov. 12, 2019, at the Port-au-Prince airport in the capital of Haiti — which is under an arms embargo — with several guns and ammunition in his luggage, the Miami Herald reported.

A Haitian customs agent told the Herald they “became suspicious when they saw the three black cases, two of which were long.”

Duroseau was indicted in the Eastern District of North Carolina two weeks later on charges of gun smuggling. He was returned to North Carolina in December 2019 and a federal judge ordered he be detained until trial, citing the strong weight of evidence against him, his “significant ties outside the United States” and the “erratic behavior leading to his arrest,” court filings show.

Duroseau was an active-duty sergeant and military firearms instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in North Carolina when prosecutors say he boarded an American Airlines flight in New Bern on Nov. 11 with five handguns, three military-style rifles and ammunition in his checked baggage.

The weapons included a Ruger model Precision Rifle and an AR-15, according to Thursday’s news release.

Some of the weapons were reportedly purchased in Jacksonville, near Camp Lejeune in Eastern North Carolina, McClatchy News previously reported.

Frederick Ludwig, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service based out of Camp LeJeune, testified at Duroseau’s detention hearing that he was accompanied to the airport in New Bern “by an individual who appears to be his girlfriend.”

The girlfriend was reportedly clad in a captain’s Marine Corps uniform despite being neither a captain nor on active duty, Ludwig said, according to court transcripts. He also said it was not a coincidence that Duroseau chose to fly on Veteran’s Day.

“Veterans and members of the military also receive various benefits on Veterans Day,” Ludwig said. “American Airlines, it is my understanding, allows for three checked baggage items for free if you are a member of the military.”

Duroseau checked exactly three suitcases as well as three hard plastic cases, Ludwig testified, which contained “unloaded firearms per TSA regulations” that he declared to American Airlines.

The Marine boarded his flight without issue and traveled through Charlotte and Miami before arriving in Haiti the following day, the Herald previously reported. Duroseau was then met by someone whose role was to “expeditiously move Mr. Duroseau through the airport and customs process and to help him with his bags as he checked through that process,” Ludwig said.

But Duroseau reportedly became agitated when he was asked to fill out a customs declaration form, resulting in an altercation with a Haitian police officer.

“From the reports we received, it appears that he actually slapped a Haitian police officer, which drew the attention of further Haitian officers and that once again led to him being detained and a secondary inspection being conducted,” Ludwig said.

Duroseau’s bags were put through a metal detector, which led to the discovery of the guns, ammunition and body armor, according to court filings. He was then taken into custody by the Haitian authorities.

Investigators later found a colonel’s uniform with Duroseau’s name on it in his luggage and tape on the AR-style pistol that read “Good luck, Colonel” along with “some other ineligible readings,” Ludwig testified. A colonel is a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a sergeant, Duroseau is an enlisted member in the corps.

Duroseau would later tell investigators he intended to get caught at the airport in Haiti so he could “gain a platform to make a statement,” McClatchy News previously reported.

“I know why I brought (the guns),” he told federal agents, according to court filings. “It’s still a part of the attention I need.”

Duroseau also said he “picked every gun” to be able to teach Haitian soldiers how to shoot and that he knew bringing the guns into the country was illegal. He told agents with the Naval Criminal Investigative Services that he planned to help the Haitian people, that he wanted to “wear the uniform of the military that’s been established” and “defeat the thugs” creating instability in Haiti, court filings state.

As part of his plan, prosecutors said Duroseau — who is a naturalized citizen of the U.S. — had been in contact with an unnamed person in Haiti since at least April 2019.

The person, who is identified in court filings only as a “known individual,” told investigators Duroseau “wanted to help Haiti and wants to become President of Haiti,” McClatchy News reported.

Prosecutors described this proclamation as “highly concerning.”

“Of course, if he wanted to, then he’s a citizen of Haiti and he has the opportunity to run for office in that country,” prosecutors said during his detention hearing in December 2019. “Obviously there is a way and there is a manner.”

Duroseau’s case went to trial on Dec. 7, court filings show. It concluded after three days, and a verdict was reached Thursday morning. In addition to the guilty charges, the jury determined all of the firearms and equipment at hand should be forfeited.


© 2020 The Charlotte Observer

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