Haitian police have arrested 26 Colombians and 2 Haitian nationals who are naturalized Americans allegedly involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
At 1 a.m. on July 7, a group of mercenaries, including at least 4 of the Colombians arrested, entered Moïse’s residence, located in the upscale Pelerin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, where they killed the Haitian president and wounded his wife, Martine Moïse, who had to be transported to a hospital in Florida for treatment of her wounds.
Moïse was shot twelve times. Among those were ammunition from high caliber weapons and ammunition corresponding to 9mm pistols, according to the judge in charge of the murder investigation, Carl Henry Destin.
“We found him lying face up, blue pants, white shirt stained with blood, mouth open, left eye punctured. We saw a bullet hole in the forehead, one in each nipple, three in the hip, one in the abdomen,” said Destin, who also stated that Moïse’s desk and room were “ransacked” by the attackers after murdering him.
The interim president, Claude Joseph, has called for calm and affirmed that “the Armed Forces and the Police are in control. It is necessary to avoid problems. Do not let anyone lead us into a confusing situation”.
Who are the 26 Colombian mercenaries?
After Moïse’s assassination, the interim president decreed a state of siege and Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic was closed and flights abroad canceled.
At 6 p.m. Haitian police intercepted the mercenaries and after a confrontation claimed to have killed 4 of Moïse’s assailants and captured others.
“We have arrested 15 Colombians and the two Americans of Haitian origin. Three Colombians have been killed while eight others are on the loose” said Haitian Police Director General Leon Charles. Although the police originally stated that they had killed 4 mercenaries, not 3, Charles did not explain the discrepancy in the information.
Among the American citizens originally from Haiti detained are James Solages, a resident of Fort Lauderdale, who was a bodyguard at the Canadian embassy in Haiti. The second American arrested is Joseph Vincent, a 56-year-old man who lived in Miami. Witnesses say the men were found hiding in the bushes.
The names of four of the Colombians arrested are already known. They are Alejandro Giraldo, John Jairo Ramírez, Víctor Albeiro Pinera and Manuel Antonio Groso.
The Colombian Minister of Defense, Diego Molano, confirmed that Interpol has “officially requested information from the Colombian Government and the National Police about the alleged perpetrators of this act […] we have given instructions from the National Government to the Police and the Army to immediately collaborate in the development of this investigation so that these facts may be clarified”.
The items seized by the authorities included long-caliber weapons, such as AR-15 rifles, ammunition, US dollars, the server of the security cameras of Moïse’s residence and his checkbook.
According to the statements of the captured Haitians, “The mission was to arrest President Jovenel Moïse, in the framework of the execution of an investigative judge’s mandate and not to kill him”.
It appears that Solage had been in Haiti for a month and Vincent for six months and that they had made contact in the Dominican Republic with the group of Colombians who, on June 6, had entered Haiti through the Haitian border.