US arrests 4 more suspects in connection with assassination of Haitian president

Owner of Miami-area security company that hired ex-Colombian soldiers for mission among those charged, prosecutors say
Jovenel Moise Haiti
Posted at 2:25 PM, Feb 14, 2023

MIAMI — U.S. authorities have arrested four more people in the slaying of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, including the owner of a Miami-area security company that hired ex-Colombian soldiers for the mission, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Antonio "Tony" Intriago, owner of CTU Security, is charged with conspiracy to kill or kidnap a person outside the U.S. among other charges, along with company representative Arcangel Pretel Ortiz.

Florida-based U.S. financier Walter Veintemilla is accused of funding the operation. A fourth suspect, Frederick Joseph Bergmann Jr., is accused of smuggling goods.

"It is extremely important to bring (them) to justice," said Markenzy Lapointe, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. "We will deliver justice in the courtroom."

A squad of former Colombian soldiers hired by CTU are among suspects who carried out the July 2021 attack, which authorities said originally was envisioned to be a coup rather than an assassination. The motives and ultimate masterminds of the attack remain unclear.

Tama Kudman, Veintemilla's attorney, told The Associated Press that he would plead not guilty to both charges.

Claude Joseph, who was serving as prime minister when Moïse was killed, cheered the announcement.

"Justice must prevail," he tweeted, along with a picture of a U.S. government news release on Tuesday's announcement.

Earlier this month, the president's widow, Martine Moïse, who was shot during the attack but survived, called for the creation of a special U.N. tribunal to investigate the assassination, saying the case has faced obstacles for 19 months.

"The killers are out there," she said.

A total of 11 suspects are now in U.S. custody, including key players like James Solages and Joseph Vincent, two Haitian-Americans who were among the first arrested after Moïse was shot 12 times at his private home in July 2021. Other suspects include Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a pastor and failed businessman whose associates have suggested he was duped by the real masterminds who have yet to be arrested.

James Solages and Joseph Vincent, South Florida residents accused in Haitian president's assassination
South Florida residents James Solages, left, and Joseph Vincent, second to left, are among the suspects in the assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moise.

Authorities have said that the original plan was to detain Moïse, force him onto a plane and whisk him to an unidentified location, but that plot crumbled when suspects couldn’t find a plane or sufficient weapons, according to court documents.

Sanon, who envisioned himself as Haiti's new leader, was supposed to seize power, but the other suspects soon favored a former Haitian Supreme Court judge to take over instead. Police say the judge remains a fugitive.

A day before the killing, Solages falsely told other suspects that it was a CIA operation and that the real mission was to kill the president. Shortly before Moïse was killed, Solages yelled that it was supposedly a DEA operation so that the president’s security detail would comply.

Also detained are former Haitian Sen. John Joël Joseph, who had fled to Jamaica, and former U.S. government informant and Haitian businessman Rodolphe Jaar, who was extradited from the Dominican Republic.

As the U.S. investigation into the July 2021 assassination of Moïse pushes forward, the probe in Haiti is nearly idle. Three judges have stepped down from the case amid fears they will be killed and a fourth one was dismissed. Meanwhile, no court hearings have been held yet for the more than 40 suspects arrested in Haiti, with many of them including 18 Colombian soldiers languishing in a severely overcrowded jail in Port-au-Prince that often lacks food and water.