A former Marine sergeant who traveled to his homeland of Haiti with firearms and a colonel’s rank to train the Haitian Army and become the nation’s president was found guilty of illegal firearms smuggling by a federal jury.
Starting in April 2019, Marine Sgt. Jacques Yves Sebastien Duroseau, 34, began making plans to return to Haiti, contacting a person in the country not identified in court documents about his plan.
The firearms instructor got a friend, identified only as “TH,” and a sergeant in the Marine Corps’ Individual Ready Reserve to doctor paperwork claiming he was a Marine colonel on orders to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. TH also purchased Duroseau an American Airlines airplane ticket from Coastal Carolina Regional Airport in New Bern, North Carolina, near Camp Lejeune, for Nov. 11, 2019, to Haiti.
On Nov. 11, 2019, the pair arrived at the airport. Duroseau was in plainclothes but his IRR sergeant friend was dressed in Marine utilities with the rank of captain. They brought along three suitcases and three containers, two of which were filled with firearms and a third full of ammunition.
TH pretended to be Duroseau’s subordinate, taking notes on the containers’ contents. The pair filled out paperwork with the airline to transport the items, but had not obtained approved export documents for the weapons, nor the body armor and rifle scopes they also carried.
Duroseau landed in Haiti and had his luggage and items inspected. He was detained, waived his rights and told investigators that he had traveled to his native Haiti to help Haitian people, “defeat the thugs that have been creating a little bit of part of the instability in Haiti.”
“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,” said NCIS Special Agent Sean Devinny, who is in charge of the Carolinas field office. “NCIS extends its gratitude to Homeland Security Investigations for their collaboration and partnership during this investigation.”
His aims would not be without precedent. Another former Marine, Cpl. Hussein Farrah Aidid, told his superiors he would miss drill periods because he had to travel out of the country. On those “travels” he returned to his native, war-torn Somalia and became a general in his warlord father Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s militia.
The father played a central role in the events in Mogadishu, Somalia, that led to the deaths of 18 U.S. military members, a story popularized in the book and later film of the same title, “Black Hawk Down.”
Hussein Aidid, an artilleryman with 1st Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, served in Operation Desert Storm and then deployed to Somalia during Operation Restore Hope while his father was fighting against the United States and UN peacekeepers because he spoke Somali.
The elder Aidid died following battle wounds in 1996. Aidid the younger was named his successor and for a brief time led ongoing fighting before agreeing to peace settlements and serving in various government positions before fleeing to Eritrea in 2007.
Marines illegally training Haitians also isn’t a new idea.
In 1972 a company known as Aerotrade, based in Miami, had transported military weapons, including armored personnel carriers, and provided former Marine trainers to the Haitian Defense Ministry, without proper approvals.
In all, Duroseau had brought eight firearms, including four 9 mm pistols, one .45 caliber pistol, two 5.56 mm semiautomatic rifles and one .300 Winchester Magnum bolt action rifle.
Naval Criminal Investigative Services identified electronic traces showing Duroseau as the purchaser of the weapons, some as recently as October 2019, others from previous years.
When interviewed, TH said that Duroseau had planned to move to Haiti, work with its police force and eventually run for president. He said since he was going to live in Haiti he wanted to take his firearms with him.
It is not clear from court documents whether TH was charged in any crime for his role in the allegations.
Duroseau was detained and charged upon his return to the United States. He was indicted in January and faced a three-day trial in early December in which a jury found him guilty on five of six counts, all related to the transport and smuggling of firearms out of the country.
He was found not guilty of impersonating an officer.
Duroseau is scheduled for sentencing on March 1, 2021.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.