Marines, HNP seize illegal passports

5 May 2004 | Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

The Haitian National Police, assisted by Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment confiscated more than 60 passports and U.S. visas, detained three individuals and seized the equipment involved in the manufacture of the illegal documents during several simultaneous cordon and search operations here April 23.

These cordon and search operations were just a small portion of many operations that HNP and Marines from Marine Air Ground Task Force-8 have conducted over the past few weeks, resulting in the apprehension of several criminals and gang leaders as well as weapons, drugs and many other illegal items.

“Today’s search went really well, we were able to use the intelligence given to us to uncover some passports and detain a few locals for questioning,” said Sgt. Edward J. Somuk, squad leader, 3rd platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines. “The operation went just like we had rehearsed it.”

Over the past few weeks, the HNP and Marines from MAGTF-8 have conducted operations in an attempt to rid the city of some of its more undesirable elements. “Although it’s hard to judge the success of these missions as a whole, one thing is for sure, we are clearly demonstrating our willingness to go into areas that the police were unwilling to go for years.” said Col. David H. Berger, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines’ commanding officer.

Long before Director General Leon Charles replaced the former head of the Haitian National Police, the HNP had a reputation for abuse and corruption. With Charles’ leadership, and by working with the Multinational Interim Force, the HNP has been able to stabilize some of the more lawless areas of the country and begin to reestablish their reputation as an honest police force.

“I think it’s great that we’ve been able to go into some of the worst areas of town with the Haitian National Police, and show the people that the HNP are a professional force.” Berger said. The HNP’s reputation is being rebuilt by the manner in which they and the Multinational Interim Force-Haiti conduct their operations.

“We don’t go sneaking around scaring people, we simply ask them to cooperate with the search and normally they do,” Berger explained. “It’s important that our operations are as visible to the people as possible so they can see we are using restraint and also see a professional HNP.”
With every joint operation MIF-Haiti and the HNP are able to work more closely together to making each operation run smoother than the last.

“Every operation that we conduct together increases the confidence they have in us as our confidence increases in them.” Berger said.

The aspirations of the forces here follow the desires of the HNP, which is the improvement of the circumstances here.

“Working with the HNP, I’ve seen that they want what everyone else wants, which is the improvement of life for the Haitian people,” Berger stated. 
“They, like us, are working to get the job done right.”