Searches yield some drugs, gun
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti — In the two hours of vehicle checkpoint duty Wednesday, U.S. Marines confiscated a 9 mm handgun and a bag of marijuana-like substance.
Typical? In Haiti, nothing is typical.
The Marines were out with a show of force and continued presence in De Mas 33, a high-crime neighborhood in the capital, Port au Prince.
Jean Rene Jacques Laguerre was being pulled over, his vehicle searched by Haitian police and Marines from 2nd Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.
“I don’t mind. They’re just doing their job. But you don’t think this will clean up [the country]? It’s going to take you a very long time to get the criminals … off the streets in this country.”
“One step at a time,” responded Staff Sgt. Antonio Rosales, 32, who led Wednesday’s search.
A bit later, Marine snipers perched on a nearby building spotted, through high-powered scopes, a handgun resting on the front seat of a vehicle.
“We got one!” shouted Sgt. Andres Burgos, 22, from Orlando, Fla.
The handgun belonged to Pierre Calixte, a U.S. citizen living in Haiti who runs a barbershop and restaurant.
“Everyone is carrying licensed guns to protect themselves,” Calixte explained to Marines. “This is not a safe neighborhood.”
Calixte’s permit was expired, and Rosales explained that he was required to confiscate the weapon, then detailed the procedure Calixte must go through in order to retrieve the weapon from battalion headquarters.
“The local police have not renewed permits in 2½ years,” Calixte explained.
In another vehicle, Marines uncovered a quarter-ounce of marijuana-like substance and turned the man and the bag over to the Haitian police who were participating in the vehicle search mission.
Haitian officer Isaac Cederiner said the amount was not enough to arrest the man, and that he would let him go. He did not know what to do with the suspected drugs given to him by Rosales, who explained that it was a police matter and not a military matter and the Marines would not keep it.