Pentagon admits some Colombians arrested for assassinating Haiti President Jovenel Moïse were once trained by the US military – Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman confirmed a ‘small number’ of the suspects had participated in US military training while in the Colombian military
Admission comes days after it was revealed DEA and FBI informants are among the suspected hitmen
At least 20 of the 23 men arrested are Colombian ex-military that country’s authorities said
The US has been increasingly dragged into the assassination plot after three US citizens were been arrested over the assassination plot and admissions by US agencies
The DEA was forced to admit one of the suspects is a former informant who reached out to his contact at the agency after the president’s murder – A number of other suspects are also said to be former FBI informants
Alleged mastermind Christian Emmanuel Sanon is said to have claimed the mission had the support of the US government
Dimitri Hérard, the head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace, is in custody in connection with Haitian President Moïse’s assassination
Four high-ranking members of the president’s security detail are being held in isolation as police announced arrests of Gilbert Dragon, a former police superintendent, and Reynaldo Corvington, leader of a Haitian rebel group
Florida-based CTU Security and the owner Venezuelan businessman Antonio Intriago, is under investigation after it was recruited by Sanon
Haitian authorities put out wanted notices for Joseph Félix Badio, a former official of the Unit for the Fight against Corruption who was dismissed in May, ex-senator John Joel Joseph, a member of the opposition, and businessman Rodolphe Jaar
All three are accused of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery – police said the fugitives are prime suspects who supplied the weapons used by the mercenaries
The Pentagon Thursday has admitted that some of the Colombians arrested in Haiti for assassinating the country’s President, Jovenel Moïse, were once trained by the US military.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman confirmed that a ‘small number’ of the suspects had participated in US military training and education programs while serving in the Colombian military.
While US officials have not revealed how many of these ex-soldiers were trained by the US, their identities or what the training involved, Colombian officials have confirmed at least 20 of their nationals accused of being involved in the deadly July 7 raid are former soldiers in the country’s military.
The latest ties between Moïse’s alleged killers and the US comes days after feds confirmed that former DEA and FBI informants were among the suspects.
So far, three US citizens with ties to Florida were arrested over the plot and a Miami-based security firm was accused of hiring the hit squad. These add to the uncomfortable drip of potential links between the American agencies and the hit squad that now has some of the team members in Haitian custody.
Lt. Col. Hoffman said in a statement to The Washington Post that the Pentagon learned of the ties to the US military after reviewing its training databases.
‘A review of our training databases indicates that a small number of the Colombian individuals detained as part of this investigation had participated in past US military training and education programs, while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces,’ he said on Thursday.
Hoffman said its review of the matter is ongoing but added that the US provides military training for foreign countries to promote ‘respect for human rights, compliance with the rule of law, and militaries subordinate to democratically elected civilian leadership.’
Colombia has long been a close partner of the US military, meaning soldiers often receive the same training given to American soldiers.
However, this means that US military expertise can sometimes be used for ill means, Senator Patrick J. Leahy told the Post.
‘This illustrates that while we want our training of foreign armies to build professionalism and respect for human rights, the training is only as good as the institution itself,’ he said.
‘The Colombian army, which we have supported for 20 years, has a long history of targeting civilians, violating the laws of war and not being accountable.
‘There has been a cultural problem within that institution.
As the US has found itself increasingly dragged into last weeks’ assassination of the Haitian president, some disturbing elements of this saga come into relief. Three US citizens have been arrested over the plot, all with ties to Florida. They are Joseph Vincent, 55, James Solages, 35, and Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, and on Tuesday, the DEA admitted one of the Haitian-American men arrested was a former DEA informant.
The confirmation from the Pentagon comes hours it was revealed that the head of security at Haiti’s presidential palace is in custody in connection with President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination on July 7 at his Port-au-Prince home.
Dimitri Hérard, who is the head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace, was questioned at the Inspector General’s office on Wednesday, then transferred to a police station in Port-au-Prince, his associate Carl Martin told CNN.
Martin told CNN that he’s coordinating Hérard’s legal defense team.
It’s unclear what, if any, charges Hérard is facing.
Speaking with the Washington Post, Bed-ford Claude, a Haitian prosecutor said, ‘The justice [system] wants him to answer questions.’
With the evolving investigation the DEA was forced to reveal one of its ‘confidential sources’ was involved because the informant had called his contact after the killing, exposing the link.
The DEA said it advised the source to hand himself in and helped arrange his surrender to Haitian authorities.
While the DEA did not disclose the identity of the informant, sources named him to the Miami Herald as Vincent.
Vincent helped the DEA in 2017 to arrest Guy Philippe, who led a 2004 coup against Haiti’s then-President Jean Bertrand Aristide, on drugs trafficking charges, the sources said.
Vincent was with Haitian Police when Philippe was handed over to the DEA at an airport.
Philippe is now serving nine years in a US federal prison after he was sentenced in 2017 to nine years for money laundering in connection to an international narcotics scheme that involved smuggling drugs into Miami and other parts of the US in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Incidentally, Guy Philippe was a close ally of Jovenel Moïse.
Both US and Haitian authorities insisted in the hours after the assassination that the DEA was not involved.
Haitian police also said they uncovered a hat with DEA emblazoned across it in the home of another suspect arrested last week – Florida doctor and pastor Christian Sanon.
A stash of weapons was also uncovered at his home, police said.
Sanon is accused of being the mastermind of the plot in a quest to become the next leader of the Caribbean country.
The DEA has denied any involvement in Moïse’s assassination plot and said its informant was no longer working for the agency at the time.
Meanwhile, a number of the other arrested suspects are FBI informants, CNN reported.
An associate of Florida-based pastor Sanon has suggested the US supported the plot for him to assume control of Haiti, saying the mission was supposed to ‘save Haiti from hell, with support from the US government’.
The associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of safety concerns, said Sanon told him he was approached by people claiming to represent the US State and Justice departments who told him they wanted to install him as president.
The plan was only for Moïse to be arrested, the associate said, insisting Sanon would not have participated if he knew Moïse would be killed.
Haitian authorities said Sanon and other plotters held meetings in the Dominican Republic to plan the assassination in the months leading up to it.
Léon Charles, head of the Haiti’s National Police, said Thursday a photo shows Sanon and Solages meeting former Haitian opposition senator Joel John Joseph in the Dominican Republic while the three were planning the plot.
Joseph is still at large and is wanted by police over the attack.
‘They met in a hotel in Santo Domingo,’ Charles told reporters Thursday.
‘Around the table there are the architects of the plot, a technical recruitment team and a finance group.’
Police said Sanon recruited the Miami-based CTU Security, which is registered in Florida as the Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy LCC to hire the Colombian ex-soldiers to carry out the attack.
Solages is also accused of coordinating the plans with CTU.
CTU is owned by Venezuelan businessman Antonio Intriago.
Charles said Intriago is also in the photograph and allegedly visited Haiti several times to plan the assassination plot.
CTU Security allegedly used its company credit card to buy 19 plane tickets from Bogota to Santo Domingo for the Colombian suspects.
One of the Colombians who was killed, Duberney Capador, photographed himself wearing a black CTU Security polo shirt.
Charles also said a second Florida-based company – financial services company Worldwide Capital Lending Group – funded the attack, adding that its boss Walter Veintemilla also appears in the photo with the plotters.
On Tuesday Haitian authorities put out wanted notices for three men One one of the men Joseph Félix Badio, is a former official of the Unit for the Fight against Corruption (ULCC) dismissed in May for serious breaches of ethical rules. Badio police said ,rented a house near Moise’s home to help the suspects understand the layout of the area.
Others are Ex-senator John Joel Joseph, a member of the opposition and businessman Rodolphe Jaar.
Jaar was indicted in 2013 in federal court in South Florida on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela through Haiti to the U.S. He pled guilty and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.
All three are accused of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are assisting the Haitian government in its investigation of the assassination.
Now more than one week on from the assassination, at least 23 suspects have been arrested and three killed while questions continue to mount over who ordered the hit.
The head of security at Haiti’s presidential palace is among the latest to be taken into custody as authorities are now investigating if the plot was an inside job.
Dimitri Hérard, who is the head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace, was questioned at the Inspector General’s office on Wednesday before being taken to a police station, his associate Carl Martin told CNN.
Martin said he is coordinating Hérard’s legal defense team but it is unclear what, if any, charges he is facing.
Hérard flew to Colombia, Ecuador and Panama in the months before the assassination, and Colombian police are investigating whether he had any role in recruiting the mercenaries, authorities said.
He is currently under investigation by US officials over allegations he is involved in arms trafficking in Haiti, Haitian and US sources told CEPR.
Haitian Prosecutor Me Bed-Ford Claude last week raised questions about the president’s security detail on the night of the assassination.
‘They are responsible for the security of the president… I did not see any police victim except the president and his wife. If you are responsible for the security of the president where were you?’ he said.
Haitian police said four high-ranking members of the president’s security detail are being held in isolation but did not confirm if Hérard was one of them, according to the National Police, but they didn’t say if Hérard was one of the them.
Police also announced the arrest of two more people in connection with the assassination, including Gilbert Dragon, a former police superintendent who led a rebel group known as the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation and Reconstruction of Haiti. The group seized power in parts of Haiti after the 2004 coup that led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The second person arrested is Reynaldo Corvington, who is accused of providing shelter to the assassins and giving them sirens to use on top of their cars with help from another suspect, James Solages. Corvington owns a private security company called Corvington Courier & Security Service, which he established in 1982, according to its website, which provides tips on how to survive a kidnapping.
During the raid on his home, Haitian National Police said in a statement that they found several bullet cartridges, an AR-15, two handguns and bulletproof vests inside Dragon’s home.
Police found eight rifles, three grenades and a vehicle when Corvington was arrested.
These arrests come just three days after Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, who’s accused of organized the assignation plot, was taken into custody in Haiti.
Sanon, who was ties to Florida, entered the country last month on a private plane ‘with the intention of taking the Haitian presidency,’ the National Police said in a statement on Sunday.
The group of Colombians and Haitian Americans suspected of carrying out the assassination have reportedly told investigators they were there to arrest Moïse, not kill him.
Sanon allegedly recruited the Miami-based CTU Security, which is registered in Florida as the Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy LCC, and CTU Security recruited the Colombians who are accused of carrying out the hit.
CTU Security is owned by Venezuelan businessman Antonio Intriago, who’s facing questions about his company’s role in the killing.
During their arrests, police said they found several bullet cartridges, an AR-15, two handguns and bulletproof vests in Dragon’s home.
The president’s wife Martine Moïse shared photos of herself in her Miami hospital bed Thursday, where she is recovering after sustaining critical injuries in the raid that killed her husband.
Martine, 47, tweeted two photos of herself showing bandages covering her entire right arm and wrote that the pain of losing her husband of 25 years ‘will never pass’.
‘I still don’t believe that my husband has gone like this before my eyes without saying a last word to me. This pain will never pass,’ she said in a translated post.
In a follow up post written in English, Martine said: ‘Thank you for the team of guardian angels who helped me through this terrible time. With your gentle touch, kindness and care, I was able to hold on.’
The assassination of the president has left the country in turmoil with three men all claiming to be his rightful successor.
On Wednesday evening, Léon Charles, head of the Haiti’s National Police, accused Intriago of traveling to Haiti numerous times as part of the assassination plot and of signing a contract while there, but provided no other details and offered no evidence, AP reported.
Charles has said that CTU Security used its company credit card to buy 19 plane tickets from Bogota to Santo Domingo for the Colombian suspects allegedly involved in the killing.
During a news conference Wednesday evening, Charles pleaded with Haitians to help officials track down suspects who he described as a key suspects who provided weapons used in the July 7 attack.