MONTREAL — A convicted drug trafficker who vanished while on leave from a Canadian prison more than 23 years ago has been returned by American authorities.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement that removal officers sent fugitive Laveaux Francois, 56, a Haitian national with Canadian citizenship, back to Canada on Dec. 4.

Francois had served four years when he disappeared while on a furlough granted by Correctional Services Canada on May 31, 1995.

He had been convicted in Florida of conspiracy to import cocaine into the U.S. and sentenced to 15 years after being arrested attempting to unload a large quantity of cocaine from a boat docked in Miami in 1990.

He was transferred back to Canada in September 1994. After eight months behind bars he was granted a furlough, and he never returned, fleeing instead to Haiti.

The U.S. authorities say Francois continued to smuggle large amounts of cocaine into the United States from Haiti before being arrested in Haiti by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in July 2007 and extradited back to the U.S.

He was convicted the same year on conspiracy, importation and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and sentenced to 33 years behind bars.

Last October, his sentence was reduced to 13 years and he was released from a Pennsylvania prison. He was promptly arrested in Philadelphia and ordered removed from the country. At that time, authorities noted an outstanding warrant in Canada.

The agency that oversees Canada’s prisons confirmed Friday that Francois is back in its custody.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press