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  • Guy Philippe participates in a march into the city of Gonaives, Haiti, Feb. 19, 2004.

    Guy Philippe participates in a march into the city of Gonaives, Haiti, Feb. 19, 2004. | Photo: Reuters

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Philippe, a paramilitary who helped lead the 2004 U.S-backed coup to oust Aristide, was arrested days before taking his elected senate seat.

Former Haitian coup leader Guy Philippe wanted by the U.S. on drug trafficking charges was arrested Thursday night after appearing on a live talk show near the capital of Port au Prince.

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The ex-paramilitary leader turned senator-elect was arrested outside a radio studio where he was giving an interview in which the host of the program interrupted to announce the police had arrived outside the Scoop FM studio to arrest Philippe. Haitian police fired shots into the air to break up the crowd and Philippe was then taken into custody, according to the Associated Press.

After being arrested, Philippe was then transferred into the custody of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration where it is hoped that he will be soon extradited to the U.S. for trial to face drug trafficking charges, the Miami Herald reported.

Philippe, 48, led the 2004 Haitian coup which overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The coup was backed by then-U.S. President George W. Bush. 

Philippe was elected in November to the Senate despite being wanted by the DEA for more than a decade on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and money laundering.

Had Philippe been sworn into office he would have enjoyed immunity from arrest or prosecution during his senate term.

The DEA and Office of the U.S. Attorney office are yet to make any comments on the arrest.

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Haiti issued an arrest warrant for Philippe over his suspected involvement in a 2015 attack on police headquarters in Haiti’s south where at least six people were killed. Philippe's lawyers say the arrest warrant does not apply because he was a candidate in last year’s election. 

Philippe has been accused by human rights groups of overseeing extrajudicial killings in Haiti, and has constantly been able to evade arrest and spend time in exile in the Dominican Republic. He had previously threatened to start a war in Haiti between paramilitaries and the country’s government.

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