Several of the men involved in the assassination of Haiti’s President previously worked as US law enforcement informants, according to people briefed on the matter, as US investigators grapple with an increasing number of Florida links to the alleged hit squad.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise was killed last Wednesday in an operation that Haitian authorities say involved at least 28 people, many of them Colombian mercenaries hired through a Florida-based security company.
At least one of the men arrested in connection to the assassination by Haitian authorities previously worked as an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA said in a statement in response to CNN.
“At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was a confidential source to the DEA,” the DEA said in a statement.
“Following the assassination of President Moise, 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,” the DEA said.
The DEA said it is aware of reports that some assassins yelled “DEA” at the time of their attack. The DEA said in its statement that none of the attackers were operating on behalf of the agency.
Other suspects also had US ties, including working as informants for the FBI, the people briefed on the matter said. The FBI said in response to CNN’s reporting that it doesn’t comment on informants, except to say that it uses “lawful sources to collect intelligence” as part of its investigations.
Authorities on Monday announced the arrest of a suspect who they say orchestrated the assassination. Haitian-born Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, entered the country on a private jet in June, Police Chief Leon Charles said at a news conference.
Haitian authorities say that Sanon hired the Florida-based company CTU Security, which they alleged recruited men initially to provide security for Sanon, though their mission appears to have changed thereafter.
“He came to Haiti accompanied by a few people in the beginning of June, these people were supposed to ensure his security and his business,” said Charles at the news conference. “He came with the intention to take over as President of the Republic.”
Two Colombian suspects who were killed in Haiti by police also had links to CTU Security, which is owned by a Venezuelan national, said Colombian police on Monday. They have requested assistance from the US Interpol office to investigate the company’s data.
It’s not clear that the men who worked as US law enforcement informants wittingly participated in the assassination plot or were aware of the mission, the people briefed on the matter said.
CNN has not been able to reach Sanon or his representatives for comment since his arrest.
A delegation from the US, including representatives from the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, returned from Port-au-Prince on Monday and briefed President Joe Biden, according to the White House. Biden said later on Monday that he was “closely following the events in Haiti,” and that the US was “ready to continue to provide assistance.”
Haitian authorities have provided limited details on the investigation, but the growing number of Florida connections to the plot appears to portray an operation at least partly hatched in the United States. Three American citizens have now been arrested in Haiti for their alleged involvement, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
That may increase the likelihood that the US Justice Department could bring charges against any US participants in the plot.
On Monday, the Justice Department said it would “investigate whether there were any violations of US criminal law” in connection with the assassination.
Senior officials have conducted an initial assessment, and the department would continue assisting Haitian authorities to investigate “the facts and circumstances surrounding this heinous attack,” said a spokesperson in a statement.
CNN’s Caitlin Hu, Mitchell McCluskey and Jessie Yeung contributed to this report.