Four suspects in Florida have been arrested and charged by U.S. federal agents for their alleged involvement in the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, according to authorities who made the announcement on Tuesday. Moise’s assassination created a political vacuum in Haiti and bolstered the influence of powerful gangs, who have taken on de facto leadership roles in several parts of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
The Justice Department stated that a South Florida grand jury had charged a total of 11 individuals in connection with Moise’s murder, and that the four latest suspects were now in U.S. custody. The charges highlight the far-reaching implications of this brutal crime, which have reverberated across the Haitian political landscape and beyond.
Three of the new defendants – Antonio “Tony” Intriago, owner of Counter Terrorist Unit Security, or CTU; Arcangel Pretel Ortiz, operator of the affiliated CTU Federal Academy LLC; and Walter Veintemilla, head of Miramar-based Worldwide Capital Lending Group – are accused of supporting a conspiracy to kidnap or kill the president of Haiti, U.S. authorities said in a briefing.
The fourth defendant, Frederick Bergmann, is accused of conspiring to smuggle ballistic vests for former Colombian soldiers who allegedly carried out the fatal shooting of Moise, officials added.
Their investigation focuses on weapons, ballistic vests and financing used in the deadly plot.
Intriago is a Venezuelan-American businessman, while Pretel Ortiz is a Colombian-American citizen. Both were detained in South Florida, the Justice Department told reporters.
Veintemilla, a U.S. citizen, lent over $170,000 to CTU Security to finance their operations in Haiti, officials added.
The arrests and charges were reported earlier on Tuesday by the Miami Herald and the New York Times. Intriago’s lawyer told the New York Times he intended to enter a not guilty plea at his bond hearing on Tuesday.
Haitian gangs have expanded their territory since the assassination. The resulting violence has left much of the country off-limits to the government and led to routine gun battles with police.
In October, the United Nations suggested a “rapid action force” be sent to Haiti to combat escalating violence from armed gangs whose turf battles have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced.
The latest arrests in the United States come a day before leaders of the Caribbean bloc, CARICOM, are set to meet for a three-day conference, where the situation in Haiti is expected to be one of the main issues.