A former U.S. government informant who dropped out of the federal witness protection program and allegedly became a Caribbean drug lord has threatened to order the random slayings of Americans on the tiny island of St. Kitts if Washington succeeds in an effort to extradite him, the Clinton administration said Thursday.
“We consider the threat to be real, and we want to let the American citizens there know what the dangers are,” State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said. He said the department learned that the fugitive threatened to have Americans studying at Ross Veterinary University in St. Kitts killed.
Rubin said the threat was made by Charles “Little Nut” Miller, a St. Kitts businessman who has been indicted in south Florida on drug-trafficking charges. U.S. prosecutors, who used Miller as a star witness in an unrelated drug case, have been trying to extradite him from St. Kitts since 1996.
Rubin did not disclose how officials learned of the threat. Sources in the Caribbean said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration alerted Washington to the threat.
Federal court records in Florida show that the St. Kitts native is a former political enforcer in Jamaica who--as a witness for the prosecution--helped the U.S. Justice Department send two Miami gang members to prison for life. As a federally protected witness, he changed his name from Cecil Connor to Charles Miller.
Now, the administration alleges that Miller, behind the facade of a soft-drink and chicken business, has turned the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis into a major transshipment point for South American cocaine bound for the U.S. Washington has been trying for two years to bring him to the U.S. for trial.
Rubin said State Department security personnel have visited the Ross Veterinary University campus to warn students and faculty members of Miller’s threat. He said there are about 250 American students and 50 American faculty members at the university.
According to Rubin, Miller said the slayings, presumably to be carried out by his henchmen, would begin only if he was extradited. But Rubin said the administration decided to issue the warning now, even though he acknowledged that “extradition is not imminent.”
Rubin said the U.S. government is unable to provide personal security to students, faculty and other Americans on the island. But he said the administration determined that the threat is credible enough to require warning the Americans.
Although Miller, 37, has admitted a variety of crimes both in court testimony and in recent interviews, he has denied shipping drugs to the United States. In an extradition hearing in August 1996, Miller’s lawyers argued that the United States was a bully that considered its laws to be more important than the statutes of St. Kitts and Nevis. A St. Kitts magistrate ruled against extradition; the decision now is on appeal.
In St. Kitts, Miller has also been cleared of charges of drug dealing, jury-tampering and 1994 charges of killing the son of a former deputy prime minister.
In 1989, Connor, as Miller was then known, admitted in court that he worked for what he called “the underworld section” of Jamaica’s Labor Party. Later, he said, he came to the United States, becoming a member of a Jamaican drug gang.
Times staff writer Mark Fineman in Miami contributed to this story.