Suspect in Haitian president’s assassination labored as confidential DEA supply

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Soldiers patrol Pion Ville, the neighborhood where the late Haitian President Jovenel Moise lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Joseph Odelyn | AP

One of the Haitian-American suspects arrested in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise had worked as an informant for the US Drugs Agency.

The DEA confirmed Tuesday that the suspect was “temporarily” a confidential source to the agency and that he had reached out to his DEA contacts following the murder.

“A DEA officer deployed in Haiti ordered 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 person.” said a DEA spokesman said.

The DEA stated that it was aware of reports that perpetrators yelled “DEA” during the attack, but said they were not acting on behalf of the agency.

While the DEA did not disclose the suspect’s name, two law enforcement officers identified him as Joseph Gertand Vincent, NBC News reported Tuesday.

Federal court records obtained by NBC News indicate that Vincent was first arrested more than 20 years ago for providing a false name and date of birth on his U.S. passport application. He was later sentenced to two years probation and assigned to live in a Florida community correctional center after violating the terms of his sentence.

Vincent had previously been identified as one of two US citizens arrested in his private home in Port-au-Prince for alleged involvement in the President’s assassination last Wednesday. Haitian police identified the other American suspect as James Solages.

The State Department also confirmed on Monday that a third U.S. citizen was arrested in connection with the attack, but declined to provide further information on privacy concerns. The department referred the Haitian authorities for details of the arrest.

Haitian police said Sunday they had arrested Christian Emmanuel Sanon, who recently entered Haiti on a private plane, “with the intention of assuming the Haitian presidency.” Sanon has been described as a key figure in the assassination, and Haitian police added that he was the “first person the attackers called” after the president was killed.

Several new outlets such as The New York Times and The Miami Herald have reported that Sanon is a doctor in Florida.

The three Haitian men who are connected to the USA are among 18 Colombians and are among the more than 20 suspects that the Haitian police have arrested so far.

The Haitian government has called on the US and other nations to support the investigation into the murder, an incident that only fueled political unrest in the Caribbean country. Haiti was already struggling with increasing gang violence and protests against the late president’s increasingly authoritarian rule.

A delegation of US officials from the National Security Council and the Homeland Security, State and Justice departments traveled to Haiti on Sunday to assess the country’s political and security situation.

The delegation’s trip came after White House officials told NBC News on Friday that the US had no plans to deploy troops to protect critical infrastructure amid reports Haitian officials asked for military assistance.

The delegation met with Haiti’s interim leaders to promote free and fair elections, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a White House press release on Monday. US officials and Haitian police also checked the security of the country’s critical infrastructure, Horne added.

“In all of their meetings, the delegation has pledged to support the Haitian government in its pursuit of justice in this case and to reaffirm the United States’ support for the Haitian people at this difficult time,” said Horne.

The U.S. Department of Justice also announced on Monday its efforts to assist the Haitian authorities with the investigation, noting that an initial assessment in Haiti was being carried out by senior U.S. officials.

“The department will continue to assist the Haitian government in reviewing the facts and circumstances of this heinous attack,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.

Coley added that the department will investigate whether any US law has been violated in connection with the killing.

The Haitian authorities did not disclose the motive for the killing, but the late Haitian president had been heavily criticized for several months before his death.

Protests against Moise turned violent after he was accused of seeking to increase his power even after his term ended in February. Opposition leaders and their supporters called for Moise’s resignation and rejected his plans to hold a constitutional referendum with proposals that would strengthen the presidency’s power.