One of the Americans arrested for the assassination of Haiti’s president had been an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration — the US agency the hit squad had claimed to be working for.
A DEA official confirmed to Reuters that the informant even reached out to his handlers after the hit, as CNN also claimed that “several” of those arrested had also been US informants, including for the FBI.
“One of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was a confidential source to the DEA,” the DEA official confirmed to Reuters.
“Following the assassination of President Moïse, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA,” the official wrote in an email also obtained by the Miami Herald.
“A DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to surrender to local authorities and, along with a US State Department colleague, shared information with the Haitian government that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual,” the official said.
Joseph Vincent, middle Suspects in the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, among them Haitian-American citizens James Solages, left, and Joseph Vincent, second left, are shown to the media at the General Direction of the police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. Moise was assassinated in an attack on his private residence early Wednesday. The hit squad had claimed to be working for the DEA, including Joseph Vincent (center), who was a confidential source for the agency.AP
“DEA is aware of reports that President Moïse’s assassins yelled ‘DEA’ at the time of their attack,” the official told the Herald.
“These individuals were not acting on behalf of DEA,” the source insisted.
While the official did not identify which of the arrested Americans was the informant, the Herald and McClatchy both identified him as 55-year-old West Palm Beach-based suspect Joseph Gertand Vincent.
The Haitian American was first arrested more than 20 years ago for filing false information on a US passport application and went on to become a paid DEA informant, the Miami paper said.
Vincent went by the pseudonym Oliver and helped bring down drug traffickers — including the 2017 arrest of former Haiti rebel leader Guy Philippe, sources told the outlet.
Vincent had been with Haitian National Police officers when they turned over Philippe to DEA agents for the flight to Miami, sources told the paper. He eventually pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking conspiracy charges and was sentenced to nine years in prison, the Herald noted.
Joseph Vincent, second left
Multiple Haitian Americans took part in the assassination.
Members of the Haitian police and forensics look for evidence outside of the presidential residence on July 7, 2021 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. – Haiti President Jovenel Moise was assassinated and his wife wounded early July 7, 2021 in an attack at their home, the interim prime minister announced, an act that risks further destabilizing the Caribbean nation beset by gang violence and political volatility. Claude Joseph said he was now in charge of the country and urged the public to remain calm, while insisting the police and army would ensure the population’s safety.The capital Port-au-prince as quiet on Wednesday morning with no extra security forces on patrol, witnesses reported.
Jovenel Moïse was at his home during the attack.
AFP via Getty Images
Vincent was arrested last week alongside fellow Florida-based Haitian American James Solages, 35, who has described himself as a “certified diplomatic agent” and the former “chief commander of bodyguards” for the Canadian Embassy in Haiti. Florida records show Solages has held security officer and firearm licenses.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise answers a question during a meeting with John Kelly, United States Secretary of Homeland Security at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, on May 31, 2017. Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated last week.AFP via Getty Images
Both men reportedly told investigators they were translators for a Colombian commando unit that had an arrest warrant for Moïse, but that when they arrived, they found Moïse dead.
A third Haitian American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, was arrested Sunday, accused of being a mastermind of the attack as part of his bid to become the impoverished nation’s new leader.
The FBI told CNN that it doesn’t comment on informants, except to say that it uses “lawful sources to collect intelligence” as part of its investigations.
The Justice Department said Monday it had been asked by Haiti to assist in the probe of Moïse’s murder, and was doing so.
“An initial assessment has been conducted in Haiti by senior US officials,” said spokesman Anthony Coley. “The department will also investigate whether there were any violations of US criminal law in connection with this matter.”