An assassination in Haiti shows how Colombia’s war machine has gone global

Palmira, Colombia
A Colombian soldier guards explosives confiscated by during a raid in Palmira, Colombia.

  • Haiti says 21 Colombian military veterans were involved in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise earlier this month.
  • The former troops were working as private contractors, and their involvement reflects Colombia’s prominence in the mercenary industry.
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BOGOTA, Colombia – Carlos Martinez joined the Colombian military at the age of 17, a minor who had to obtain his parents’ written permission to enlist.

“I didn’t have many options. There aren’t a lot of opportunities in this country for someone like me who grew up poor,” he said, “but war will always be profitable.”

Martinez spent almost 10 years on active duty in the army, eventually joining an elite special forces unit that fought armed groups and drug traffickers in the Andean countryside.

Colombia, which currently boasts some 250,000 active-duty armed forces personnel, produced millions of soldiers like Martínez during its five-decade conflict with guerilla groups, as well as its ongoing campaign on the front lines of the so-called War on Drugs – both efforts heavily subsidized by the United States.

“We are trained to kill,” Martinez told WPR. “There is no other way to describe it.”

The problem for Colombia, though, is where do these trained killers go when they leave the military? Lacking the skills necessary to readapt to civilian life, many become private security contractors, a euphemism for mercenaries that became widely used during the US war in Iraq.

And now, the government of Haiti says 21 Colombian military veterans working as private contractors were involved in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in a nighttime assault earlier this month that also left his wife seriously wounded.

17 arrested in haiti assassination sitting in a line
Suspects in the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Price, July 8, 2021.

Colombian mercenaries have been spotted in nearly every conflict-stricken corner of the world, working legally as contractors in Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, or training cartels in Mexico. They are in high demand because of their reputation as well-trained and battle-tested fighters, with considerable combat experience in guerrilla warfare and other complex security environments.

In addition to its large and capable military, Colombia has a long history with more informal paramilitary groups from across the political spectrum. Rebel groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – better known as the FARC – and the National Liberation Army, or ELN, battled not only against the Colombian armed forces, but against private militia groups organized by government supporters as well.

All of these entities have been guilty of grave human rights violations, but that has not stopped some of them from marketing their battlefield experience. Some paramilitary veterans drawn from groups that supported the Colombian government during the civil war were even hired to help defend Honduran landowners in the aftermath of the country’s 2009 coup.

US military involvement in Colombia has only enabled the growth of its private security contractors. Under a joint operation known as Plan Colombia, which began in 2000, the American and Colombian governments funded and trained both the Colombian military and paramilitary groups to fight drug traffickers and rebel groups like the FARC.

From 2000 until 2017, the US provided more than $10 billion in aid to Colombia, more than 70% of which went directly to the military and police. To avoid getting its own troops directly involved in the fighting, the US hired private contractors such as DynCorp, which earned hundreds of millions of dollars from Colombian contracts under Plan Colombia, to bridge the gap.

“The US military pioneered this trend [of using private contractors] in Colombia even before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars made the issue well-known globally,” said Adam Isacson, director of the Defense Oversight Program at the Washington Office on Latin America, an NGO that specializes in human rights issues in the region. “As part of the drug wars in Colombia, they began hiring outsiders and private companies to fulfill military roles.”

US troops Colombia explosive ordnance disposal
US Navy explosive-ordnance-disposal technicians and Colombian troops discuss EOD disposal techniques in Coveñas Colombia, August 21, 2018.

The private security industry took a big reputational hit in 2007, when armed guards working for Blackwater, founded by Erik Prince, massacred 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 more in Baghdad. But Prince continued to expand his empire, reaching an agreement to build a private standing army in partnership with Saudi Arabia in 2011.

The corporate mercenary industry had gone global, and some of its most attractive recruits were Colombian veterans and ex-paramilitary members.

“The selling point was not only that Colombian soldiers were ‘battle tested,'” said Sergio Guzman, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a research and consultancy firm in Bogota. “They had worked with US special forces. They had been trained by US advisers.”

As if to underscore his point, the Pentagon announced Thursday that at least some of the 21 former Colombian soldiers arrested in connection with Moise’s assassination in Haiti had been trained by US advisers during their time in the Colombian military.

Another factor adding to the appeal of Colombian veterans to the private security industry, Guzman added, was that “they were cheaper than their North American counterparts.”

And that attraction was mutual. Colombians with battlefield experience found that as foreign security contractors, they were able to earn 10 times what they could at home, and former fighters flocked to the industry.

The economic draw of private contractors created a “brain drain” for the Colombian military, with Washington footing the sizeable bill.

“The US was effectively paying three times to train these contractors,” said Guzman. “They paid to train someone, who would then leave to work for a US company in the private sector, also paid for by the US, and the absence of the soldier meant [the Colombian military] had to immediately train someone else.”

Armed police officers stand in front of a mural of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse
Armed police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The turnover became so bad that the US insisted the Colombian military modify its contract, so that soldiers had to fulfill a minimum period of service before leaving for the private sector.

Not all soldiers dream of becoming mercenaries, however. “I would never work as a contractor,” said Martinez. “To me that’s just more paramilitarism, which is something that has torn my country apart. But many of my colleagues couldn’t retire fast enough to take military jobs abroad in the private sector.”

According to one Colombian veteran, who worked for years as a security contractor in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, there is a culture surrounding paramilitary fighters in Colombia – known locally as paracos – that enables the growth of the private security industry.

Paraco culture, sadly, has become a national culture,” he told WPR. The veteran asked that his name be withheld to avoid potential issues with his current employer.

“We all grew up in it. After more than half a century of conflict, it has become normalized,” he continued. “And unfortunately, some of those who are part of that culture have less scruples than others when it comes to deciding which jobs to take.”

The phenomenon is likely to continue. With Washington’s backing, the current Colombian government led by President Ivan Duque has ramped up the military’s anti-drug trafficking efforts.

Duque has also slow-rolled the implementation of the government’s landmark 2016 peace agreement with the FARC, which was signed by his predecessor, and the promise of peace remains a mirage for large parts of the country.

Colombia soldier border Venezuela
A Colombian soldier guards the border with Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia, February 9, 2018.

In the FARC’s absence, other armed factions, including offshoots of some of the same paramilitary groups that received US funding in the past, simply moved into the vacuum.

“There will always be an economic impetus for more Colombian fighters,” said the Colombian veteran who currently works as a contractor. “We have become very good at what we do.”

And due to an extreme lack of transparency in the industry, as well as varying legal frameworks in the countries in which they operate, there will always be a gray area where unethical private entities hire these soldiers of fortune.

They include the shadowy firm that calls itself the Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy. Run by a Venezuelan exile from a small warehouse in Miami, it hired the Colombians awaiting trial in Haiti for allegedly killing the president.

“The armed forces in Colombia are made up of people who didn’t start with advantages,” said Martinez, who is now a reservist. He said his current salary from the government is about twice the minimum wage, which is roughly $264 a month.

“Some of us feel we have no choice [but to work as mercenaries], but we do,” he added. “There are other options.”

However, the continued expansion of the private sector seems to confirm Martinez’s sentiment. War is profitable.

Joshua Collins is a freelance journalist based in Bogota, focused on migration and violence. Follow him on Twitter @InvisiblesMuros.

Parker Asmann is a journalist who writes about human rights, security policy and organized crime across Latin America and the Caribbean. Follow him on Twitter @PJAsmann.

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Colombians accused in Haiti assassination were once trained by the US military, Pentagon says

Armed police officers stand in front of a mural of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse
Armed police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

  • A “small number” of Colombians detained in the assassination of Haiti’s president received US military training, the Pentagon told The Washington Post.
  • They received the training while they were active members of the Colombian Military Forces, the Pentagon said.
  • It’s unclear when the training took place or how many of the suspects took part in it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A “small number” of Colombians detained in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse had previously received US military training, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

“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 U.S. military training and education programs, while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman told The Washington Post.

It’s unclear how many Colombians had the training as well as when the training to place, though Colombia is a US military partner and its military members have received training and education for decades, The Post reported.

Hoffman told The Post that the Pentagon is reviewing its training databases.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Haitian police have said that 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans are among the suspects in Moïse’s assassination.

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Judges’ clerks assisting in the Haiti assassination investigation have reportedly received ‘serious death threats’

President of the Republic of Haiti H.E. Jovenel Moise speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit - Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 25, 2018 in New York City.
President of the Republic of Haiti H.E. Jovenel Moise speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 25, 2018 in New York City.

  • Judge’s clerks assisting in the investigation into the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse have gotten death threats.
  • The National Association of Haitian Clerks said Monday that two of its members received the threats, Le Nouvelliste reported.
  • Moïse was assassinated by a group of armed assailants who stormed into his home at around 1 a.m. on July 7.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Judge’s clerks who have been assisting in the investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse have recieved “serious death threats,” a local report said.

The National Association of Haitian Clerks said Monday that two of its members, Marcelin Valentin and Waky Philostène, clerks of the Pétion-Ville peace court, have gotten the threats, according to French-language newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

In a note Monday, the president of the association called on Haiti’s Justice and Public Security Minister Rockefeller Vincent to “pass the necessary instructions in order to guarantee the security of these aforementioned clerks, so that they can carry out their task in peace,” the news outlet reported.

Moïse was assassinated by a group of armed assailants who stormed into his home at around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Haitian first lady Martine Moïse was also critically injured in the attack.

Authorities in Haiti have said 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans have been linked to the president’s killing.

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3 men suspected of assassinating Haiti’s president were killed in a bloody shootout, holed up in a concrete building, report says

A Haitian policeman in mask and helmet holding a firearm as he searches for suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
Police search for suspects who remain at large in the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, July 9, 2021.

  • Suspects in the killing of Haiti’s president were pinned down in a shootout, CNN reported.
  • The network retraced the aftermath, where 25 men were pinned down in a concrete building.
  • Some died, while some escaped to hide in the conveniently empty Taiwanese embassy, CNN said.
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The suspects in the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse got into an protracted and bloody siege in the aftermath of the assassination, according to a CNN report.

Much is still unclear about the July 7 attack, which left the president dead, riddled with bullets, and Haitian security forces scrambling to catch the perpetrators.

Citing a source with knowledge of the operation, CNN reported on the multi-day chase between security forces and at least 25 suspects.

Among them were two Haitian-American suspects, taken alive, and two hostages who were members of the presidential guard, CNN reported.

In the early hours, after Moïse had been shot in his home outside Port-au-Prince, police set up a blockade on a narrow route and intercepted a convoy of five cars, the source said.

Trapped, the suspected assailants fled, abandoning guns and water supplies in their vehicles, per CNN.

The group headed up a steep hill, some scattering but most taking shelter along with the hostages in a two-story concrete building, which CNN visited.

“We could hear them talking and shouting in Spanish,” the source told the network. “They were talking, and they knew exactly what they were facing.” Fifteen of the suspects eventually captured were Colombian.

In the afternoon heat, the standoff lasted until 4 p.m. local time, when Haitian forces threw tear gas into the building, prompting a negotiation, CNN reported.

A close-up of a uniformed Haitian police officer holding a firearm, prior to planned protests at the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian police stand guard as protests were planned five days after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, July 12 2021.

Two Haitian-Americans were the first to surrender, saying they were interpreters, CNN reported.

The network did not name James Solages and Joseph Vincent, two Haitian-American suspects who have made this claim. The hostages also left the building, CNN reported.

A shootout began, with Haitian security forces advancing and the heavily-armed suspects throwing a grenade out towards them – which didn’t explode, per CNN.

Three suspects were killed in the exchange of fire, which went on for two hours, CNN’s source said. But when the security forces reached the building, most of their assailants had fled, having quietly escaped uphill during the shooting, CNN reported.

Two bodies, one shrouded and the other just out of view, in the back of a van. Haitian police say they are suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
A police vehicle carrying the bodies of two people killed in a shootout with police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. According to Police Chief Leon Charles, the two dead are suspects in Moïse’s killing.

The group ended up at the Taiwanese embassy, which was left empty. CNN noted that Haitian forces were suspicious that the men knew how to reach such a perfect hideaway nearby,

Diplomatic properties have special rules and are not easily accessible by the police, buying the men some time.

A spokeswoman for the embassy said staff were kept home after hearing of the previous day’s assassination. She confirmed that the grounds were breached by armed men, and said that Taiwan gave Haitian security forces permission to enter as soon as they were asked.

Eleven suspects were eventually captured there, according to CNN’s source, with others swept up from the surrounding area.

Exactly what the assailants hoped to do is still unclear. A Haitian-American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, is suspected of masterminding the attack, which he didn’t join in person.

Solages and Vincent, the other two Haitian-Americans under suspicion who claim to be translators, believed that the plan was to arrest, not kill Moïse, a judge said.

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Several of the men arrested in Haitian president’s assassination had ties to US law enforcement: reports

17 arrested in haiti assassination sitting in a line
Suspects in the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moise seen s in Port-au-Price on July 8, 2021.

  • Several of the men arrested in connection to the president’s assassination, had ties to US law enforcement, according to CNN.
  • Haitian authorities arrested two Haitian American men and 26 Colombian men last week.
  • On Sunday, police arrested another Florida-based Haitian American who is accused of being the mastermind behind the attack.
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Several of the men arrested in connection to last week’s assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, had ties to US law enforcement, according to Reuters and CNN.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed to Insider that at least one of the men arrested by Haitian authorities previously worked as an informant for the DEA.

“At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was a confidential source to the DEA,” the DEA said in a statement to Insider. “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.”

Video footage of the moments leading up to the assassination show someone saying “this is a DEA operation” multiple times through a megaphone. The agency told Insider that none of the attackers were working on behalf of the DEA.

People familiar with the matter told CNN that others involved in the assassination also had US ties, including working as informants for the FBI.

The FBI did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Reuters reported that one of the two Haitian-American men arrested last week had ties to US law enforcement.

Haitian authorities arrested Joseph Vincent and James Solages last Thursday in connection to the shocking murder of Moïse early Wednesday morning. The two American men were described as being of Haitian descent.

Vincent and Solages, both from Florida, were charged, along with 26 Colombians in the attack that left Moïse dead and his wife, Martine Moïse, in critical condition.

A Haitian judge said on Friday that Vincent and Solages claimed they were only serving as translators for the hit squad and were not in the room when the shooting took place.

Solages said he found a job listing online to translate for the commandos.

According to Reuters, Solages described himself in past online statements as a “certified diplomatic agent” and the former “chief commander of bodyguards” for Haiti’s Canadian embassy.

The US government source that told Reuters about the law enforcement connection did not specify which of the two men had ties to an American agency and did not provide any details about the nature of the relationship, the outlet reported.

The news comes one day after a third Haitian-American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, was arrested on Sunday and accused of being the mastermind behind the attack. Sanon, 63, is a Florida-based doctor, who Haitian officials say recruited assailants to aid his “political motives.”

The attack has led to a power vacuum in the already struggling country, where at least four men have since claimed to be the leader of Haiti.

On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that FBI and Department of Homeland Security agents would be sent to Haiti as soon as possible to help provide security and investigative assistance.

The motive for the brazen assassination remains unclear.

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One of the final tweets by the man suspected of masterminding the Haitian president’s assassination called for a ‘transitional government’

an image of Christian Sanon haiti
A still from a YouTube video showing Christian Sanon.

  • President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday.
  • On June 7, a suspect, Christian Sanon, tweeted that he wanted a “transitional government.”
  • Sanon and several others flew by private jet to Haiti around the time of the tweet, the police said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The last worded tweet posted by the man whom the police in Haiti have identified as a mastermind of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse called for a “transitional government” in the Caribbean country.

Authorities in Haiti announced on Sunday that they had arrested Christian Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian-born American who worked as a doctor in Florida.

Léon Charles, the country’s police chief, said Sanon and several others involved in Moïse’s killing flew to Haiti on a private jet in early June with “political objectives,” according to The Washington Post.

final tweet sent by haiti suspect
A screenshot of a tweet from the account HaitiLivesMatter on June 7.

On June 7, Sanon tweeted from his account HaitiLivesMatter: “A transitional government in Haiti is the only way forward. Port-au-Prince is now in complete chaos.” The account has been deleted, but Insider found an archived copy of the page.

Sanon’s personal website, ChristianSanon.org, redirected to HaitiLivesMatter.com.

The Post said that on the website, Sanon was branded as the head of a mission “chosen to lead Haiti.”

On June 6, the HaitiLivesMatter account retweeted a post from the House Foreign Affairs Committee calling on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “withhold funding for the constitutional referendum proposed by Haitian President Moïse.”

Moïse had postponed the controversial referendum, scheduled for June 27, until September.

The killing followed months of unrest and calls for Moïse to step down.

The police in Haiti said that 28 people carried out the hit and that as of Monday 21 people had been arrested in connection with it, Reuters reported.

Two Haitian Americans arrested in connection with the killing told authorities that the group’s intention was not to kill Moïse but to arrest him and take him to the presidential palace, the Miami Herald reported.

On Sunday, Charles said he believed there were two other men who masterminded the operation, though he did not name them.

He added that Sanon had wanted to be Haiti’s president and to hire the killers as his bodyguards.

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The American suspected of masterminding the Haitian assassination planned to steal the presidency and hire the hitmen as official bodyguards, police say

an image of Christian Sanon haiti
A still from a YouTube video showing Christian Emmanuel Sanon, the accused mastermind of President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination.

  • President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead by a group of assailants at his home last week.
  • Haitian police said on Sunday they had arrested one of the masterminds of the attack.
  • They said Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Florida doctor, wanted to seize the presidency and hire the hitmen as his guards.
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The American man suspected of hatching the plot to assassinate Haiti’s leader wanted to steal the presidency for himself and hire the killers as his bodyguards, police have said.

President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead in the bedroom of his Port-au-Prince home on July 7. The Haitian police said 28 people carried out the attack and, as of Monday, 21 people have been arrested in connection to it, Reuters reported.

On Sunday, Léon Charles, the country’s police chief, announced that they had arrested a man believed to be one of the masterminds of the operation, the Associated Press reported.

Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian-born American who worked as a doctor in Florida, flew to Haiti in early June on a private jet with “political objectives,” Charles said.

Some of the alleged hitmen joined him on the plane, Charles said.

According to Charles, Sanon planned to steal the presidency from Moïse, and wanted to hire the hitmen who carried out the killing to be his personal bodyguards, The Washington Post reported.

17 arrested in haiti assassination sitting in a line
Suspects in Moïse’s assassination seen in Port-au-Prince on July 8, 2021.

At Sanon’s home in Haiti, the police found a hat bearing the logo of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, 20 boxes of bullets, gun parts, four car licence plates from the Dominican Republic, and two cars, The Guardian reported.

The assassins reportedly posed as members of the DEA moments before they killed Moïse.

The men were initially hired to travel to Haiti to protect Sanon, but their orders soon changed to arresting Moïse, Charles said.

Two Haitian Americans arrested by police had told authorities that the group’s intention was not to kill Moïse, but to arrest him and take him to the presidential palace, the Miami Herald and Reuters reported.

The pair said they were translators for the Colombian commando unit and had an arrest warrant for Moïse, but that the president was dead by the time they arrived, according to Reuters.

It is not clear who had issued the arrest warrant and how the men would have obtained it.

After Moïse, who was shot 12 times, was dead, one of the suspects phoned Sanon to update him, Charles said.

Charles added that two other people, whom he did not name, are also thought to have masterminded the plot.

In a 2011 video posted to YouTube titled “Leadership for Haiti,” Sanon slammed Haiti’s political elite. “They don’t care about the country, they don’t care about the people,” he said.

Haiti has asked the US to to send troops to help stabilize the country, but the US was still “analyzing” whether to do so. Senior officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security arrived in Haiti on Sunday to discuss how the US could help, The Washington Post said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told “Fox News Sunday” the US was considering its options.

“We’re analyzing it, just like we would any other request for assistance here at the Pentagon. It’s going through a review,” he said.

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Suspects in the Haitian president’s assassination claim they broke into his house to arrest – not kill – him, reports say

17 arrested in haiti assassination sitting in a line
Suspects in the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse seen in Port-au-Prince.

  • Jovenel Moïse was killed in the bedroom of his Port-au-Prince home early July 7.
  • Two of the 17 men arrested said the plan was to arrest Moïse, not kill him, per the Miami Herald.
  • The motive is still unclear. Haitian authorities have accused 28 men of being part of the hit.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two men suspected of taking part in the assassination of Haiti’s president last week have claimed that the plan was to arrest, not kill, him, the Miami Herald and Reuters reported.

Jovenel Moïse was shot 12 times in the bedroom of his private home on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince early on July 7.

Haitian authorities have accused 28 men, most of whom Colombian, of being part of the assassination plot.

As of Monday, 21 people have been arrested, Reuters reported. It is not clear how many of those 21 men were accused assassins.

Three people arrested are American, The New York Times reported Sunday. One, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, appears not to have taken part in the assassination, but is considered the mastermind.

Moïse’s wife, who was also shot during the attack, said in a voice note posted to Twitter on Saturday that it happened “in the blink of an eye” and that her husband was “riddled” with bullets.

But according to two of the suspects, the plan was not to kill Moïse but arrest him, the Herald reported.

James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, both Haitian Americans from Florida, said the plan was to “arrest the president and go to the presidential palace with him,” investigative judge Clément Noël said, according to the Herald.

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Antalya, Turkey, on June 18, 2021.

The pair said they “didn’t go to kill the president” but to be translators, Noël told the newspaper.

“They said they knew what happened, but they didn’t participate in the killing. They were there to translate.”

According to Reuters, Solages and Vincent said they were translators for the Colombian commando unit and had an arrest warrant for Moïse, but that the president was dead by the time they arrived.

It is not clear who had issued the arrest warrant and how the men would have obtained it.

Several of the arrested Colombians said they were hired by CTU Security, a Miami-based company, the Herald reported.

Haitian officials say they arrested one of the masterminds

At a press conference Sunday, Haitian officials said they had arrested Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Florida-based doctor, whom they consider one of the masterminds. Sanon is the third Haitian-born suspect known to be arrested, The Times reported.

Léon Charles, the Haiti police chief, said Sanon had entered Haiti in early June via private jet “with political objectives,” the BBC and The Times reported.

Charles said Sanon, 63, planned to take over as president. Charles added that he had identified two other ringleaders, but did not identify them.

Several members of the hit squad had been in the country for at least three months to prepare the attack, The Guardian reported.

Moïse’s killing follows years of social unrest in Haiti.

He was accused of clinging onto power, but the emerging power vacuum has triggered fears that Haiti will descend into civic chaos without external intervention.

The Haitian government has asked the US to to send troops to help stabilize the country, but the US is as yet undecided.

“We’re analyzing it, just like we would any other request for assistance here at the Pentagon. It’s going through a review,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told “Fox News Sunday.”

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Wife of assassinated Haitian president described watching her husband die after his body was ‘riddled” with bullets

Haitian President Jovenel Moise
Haitian President Jovenel Moise is seen with his wife at the Te Deum during his inauguration ceremony at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, on February 7, 2017.

  • The wife of the Haitian President described the attack that killed her husband from her hospital bed.
  • Martine Moïse said the killers shot so quickly that her husband was unable to “say a single word.”
  • Moïse was also shot and flown to Flordia for treatment, but said she was in “beautiful condition.”
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The wife of assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has spoken for the first time since a group of gunmen killed her husband, saying the late-night attack happened “in the blink of an eye”.

Martine Moïse was with her husband in their private Port-au-Prince residence early Wednesday when a group of assassins burst in and shot him.

In a voice message posted to her Twitter page on Saturday, Moïse said her husband was “riddled” with bullets and that the attack happened so quickly he was unable to “say a single word.”

“In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries entered my house and riddled my husband with bullets,” Moïse said in the voice note, according to the BBC.

“This act has no name because you have to be a limitless criminal to assassinate a president like Jovenel Moïse, without even giving him the chance to say a single word,” she continued.

Moïse herself was also shot and flown to Miami, Florida for treatment. The 47-year-old said she was in “a beautiful condition and very much alive,” according to the voice note.

She also suggested that her husband was targeted for political reasons, mentioning an upcoming referendum that would have made changes to the constitution that could have given the president more power.

“I am crying, it is true, but we cannot let the country lose its way,” she said, according to the BBC. “We cannot let the blood of President Jovenel Moïse, my husband, our president whom we love so much and who loved us in return, flow in vain.”

It is still unclear who exactly was behind the attack, which has been met with utter disbelief in the country.

At least six people – including two men believed to be Haitian Americans – had been arrested over the president’s killing as of Thursday. The police also killed four others in a firefight.

A recent video from Haitian police showed suspects being marched to jail.

Moïse took office in February 2017 after a tumultuous and prolonged election cycle. After his death, Haiti’s political future is even more up in the air.

Some top officials have asked US military troops to help protect the country’s port, airport, and gas supply.

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US citizens arrested over Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination say they were just translators for hit squad, judge says

James Solages sits on the floor alongside five other suspects in the killing of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse.
James Solages, left, is a Haitian-American who is a suspect in the killing of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse

  • Two US citizens arrested over the killing of Haiti’s president said they worked as translators for the hit squad.
  • One of the Americans said he found an online job listing to serve as a translator.
  • At least 15 people have been detained over the assassination so far.
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Two Americans arrested in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse said they only served as translators for the hit squad and weren’t actually in the room when the killing took place, Haitian Judge Clément Noël said on Friday, per the New York Times.

The two US citizens have been identified as James J. Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55. Both are from Florida. Solages said he found a job listing to translate for the hid squad online.

The motive for the assassination, which has left experts “dumbfounded,” remains unclear. Haitian police said that the. killing was carried out by 26 Colombian and two Haitian-American (Solages and Vincent) mercenaries, per Reuters. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in both Colombia and the US are now investigating links to the killing in light of the arrests of nationals from their countries.

“The United States remains engaged and in close consultations with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Friday.

Moïse was killed in his private residence early on Wednesday. His assassination came amid escalating political turmoil and violence in Haiti, which is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Haitian authorities have said the assailants posed as US Drug Enforcement Agency agents before entering Moïse’s home. Noël, who is investigating the assassination, said Solages at the start of the attack on the president’s home said via a loudspeaker that they were with the DEA, the Times reported. The Americans said the operation was planned for at least a month, Noël said, and that the ultimate goal was not to kill Moïse but to take him .

Fifteen suspects have been detained so far, and four were killed in a firefight with police.

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