Four arrested in Florida for alleged roles in assassination of Haitian president
Four men have been arrested and charged in Florida in connection to the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, federal officials in Miami-Dade announced Tuesday.
The four men arrested on Tuesday are Arcangel Pretel Ortiz, a Colombian national residing in Miami; and US citizens Antonio Intriago, Walter Veintemilla, and Frederick Bergmann, according to a press release.
Intriago, Ortiz, and Veintemilla were charged with supporting a conspiracy to kidnap or kill the president of Haiti, according to federal officials.
Bergmann has been charged with conspiracy to commit export violations for conspiring to smuggle 20 ballistic vests from South Florida to Haiti for ex-soldiers allegedly tasked with killing Moise, said Markenzy Lapointe, US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
The four hoped to secure construction contracts in return for the assassination, authorities alleged.
CNN has reached out to Joseph Tesmond, Intriago’s lawyer, for comment. It’s not clear if the other suspects have retained an attorney.
Dozens of people are believed to have been involved in the death of Moïse, who was shot around a dozen times and killed in his home in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. His wife, Martine Moïse, was also shot but survived.
Moïse’s death has been followed by a rise in extreme violence in Haiti by gangs seeking to fill the power vacuum.
“The charging documents also allege that by June 2021 the plot progressed from forcibly removing Moïse from power….to assassinating him, said Lapointe.
As of Tuesday, a total of 11 defendants have so far “been charged and are in US custody,” said Matthew Olsen, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
Hiring dozens of former soldiers
Ortiz and Intriago allegedly hired more than 20 former soldiers from Colombia for the plot, according to Lapointe.
He said that Intriago’s company, the Miami-based Counter Terrorist Unit Security (CTU), retained a group of about 20 Colombian nationals with military training.
CTU has not responded to CNN’s prior requests for comment and it’s unclear if the company even still exists.
Several former Colombian soldiers associated with CTU were imprisoned in Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the assassination. In an interview in 2021, five of them told CNN that they had lived and worked together in a compound in the capital city Port-au-Prince, not that far from where then-President Moise lived.
They insisted they were not responsible for the president’s death but declined to answer further questions or go into details about that fatal morning for two common reasons, saying they had no legal representation and feared for their lives.
“We were told that we were going to provide security for a Haiti presidential candidate,” said one of the men at the time. “We had no idea what was going to happen.”