One of the men arrested last week in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has been revealed to be a former informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA confirmed Monday that a former confidential informant for the agency was among the men arrested in the assassination plot, and although it did not the name the individual, The Miami Herald reports that the man is Joseph Gertand Vincent, one of two Haitian-Americans picked up last week in Haiti.
Moïse was killed last Wednesday, July 7, when a group of gunmen entered his Port-au-Prince private residence in a nighttime attack that left his wife wounded. Authorities believe more than 28 suspects were involved in the plot, including at least 26 Colombians, many of them retired military members, as well as Haitian-Americans James Solages, 35, and Vincent, 55. More than 20 suspects are detained, three were killed in a shootout, and a manhunt remains underway for those still on the loose. Christian Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian-born man based in Florida, was arrested over the weekend in connection with the assassination, authorities announced on Sunday. Sanon is believed to have orchestrated the assassination.
Among the Colombian suspects, 26 were hired through the Florida-based security firm CTU, which is run by a Venezuelan immigrant, to provide unspecified VIP security, although their mission appears to have changed over time. Sanon referred to himself as a doctor but had no medical license in Florida, and had spoken critically of Haiti’s leadership in the past, going as far as speaking about how things would be different “with me in power.”
In initial reports following Moïse’s assassination, the gunmen were said to have yelled “DEA” at the time of the attack.
In a statement to CNN, the DEA said confirmed one of the suspects in the assassination was a former DEA informant.
“At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was a confidential source to the DEA,” the statement said.
“Following the assassination of President Moïse, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA. A DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to surrender to local authorities and, along with a US State Department official, provided information to the Haitian government that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual,” the statement continued.
The DEA said none of the attackers were acting on behalf of the agency. The informant was arrested more than 20 years ago for providing false information on a U.S. passport application, The Miami Herald reported. The person was then “at times” a source for the DEA.
According to Haiti’s police chief Leon Charles, Sanon flew to Haiti on a private jet in June with political intentions. “This is an individual who entered Haiti on a private plane with political objectives,” Charles said. He also said the mission was to arrest Moïse and install Sanon as president but that “the mission changed.”
Upon searching Sanon’s residence, police found they found 20 boxes of 12 and 9 millimeter caliber ammunition, rifle and pistol holsters, 24 unused shooting targets, a cap labeled “DEA,” two vehicles, and four Dominican Republic license plates.
Other suspects in the assassination had worked as informants for the FBI, CNN reported. The FBI told CNN it doesn’t comment on informants but said it uses “lawful sources to collect intelligence.” The same CNN report, citing the U.S. State Department, described the number of Americans being held in connection with the assassination as three, but it did not identify the third American.
Martine Moïse was critically wounded in the attack that killed her husband and flown to Florida for treatment. In a Saturday audio message shared to Twitter she called on the Caribbean nation facing escalating violence and political uncertainty not to “lose its way.”
She continued, “I am crying, it is true, but we cannot let the country lose its way,” adding, “We cannot let his blood … have been spilled in vain.”
In the wake of Moïse’s death, Haiti has been catapulted into deeper political turmoil as three men have claimed power. U.S. officials arrived Saturday to meet with all three men.
U.S. officials continue to aid in the investigation, and the Justice Department said Monday that it would “investigate whether there were any violations of US criminal law.”