A Venezuelan man who owns a Florida security company allegedly traveled to Haiti multiple times in the plot to assassinate President Jovenel Moïse – and the head of the late leader’s security detail has been placed in custody, according to new reports.
Haiti’s National Police Chief Léon Charles said Antonio Intriago of CTU Security signed a contract while in Haiti.
“The investigation is very advanced,” said Charles, who provided no details and offered no evidence about the allegation about Intriago, who could not be immediately reached for comment by the Associated Press.
Charles has said that CTU Security used its company credit card to buy 19 plane tickets from Bogota to Santo Domingo for the Colombian suspects allegedly involved in the assassination.
The police chief pleaded with Haitians during a news conference late Wednesday to help officials track down suspects who remain on the lam, including a former senator, John Joël Joseph, whom he described as a key suspect and is accused of providing weapons used in the July 7 attack.
Joseph, an opponent of the Tet Kale party that Moïse belonged to, is one of five fugitives who police say are armed and dangerous.
“We are looking for these assassins, and wherever they go we need to capture them, arrest them and bring them to justice,” Charles said.
In a video posted on YouTube last year, Joseph compared Moïse to the coronavirus, saying Haitians have died from hunger or been killed amid a spike in violence under his administration.
Charles also announced the arrest of Gilbert Dragon, who led a rebel group known as the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation and Reconstruction of Haiti, which seized power in parts of Haiti after the 2004 coup that led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Authorities said they found several weapons at his home, including grenades and an AR-15 assault rifle.
In addition, police arrested Reynaldo Corvington, a Haitian man accused of providing the suspects with housing and giving them sirens to use on top of their cars with help from another suspect, James Solages, a Haitian American who has been detained.
Corvington owns private security company Corvington Courier & Security Service, which provides tips on how to survive a kidnapping.
Police said they found several weapons at his house, including nine handguns and an AR-15.
Another of the fugitives identified by police is Joseph Felix Badio, who allegedly rented a house near Moïse home to help the suspects understand the layout of the area, Charles said.
Badio, who previously worked for Haiti’s Ministry of Justice, joined the government’s anti-corruption unit in March 2013.
The agency issued a statement saying Badio was fired in May following “serious breaches” of unspecified ethical rules, adding that it filed a complaint against him.
“This villainous act is an affront to our democracy,” the unit said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Dimitri Herard, the head of security at Haiti’s presidential residence, has been placed in police custody, associate Carl Martin told CNN.
Herard had been questioned at the Inspector General’s office on Wednesday, then transferred to a police station in Port-au-Prince, according to Martin, who said he is coordinating the man’s legal defense team.
When Herard asked investigators why he was being held, he was told the decision “came from above,” said Martin, who added that police have taken away Herard’s guns and cell phone.
Earlier Wednesday, Herard did not show up for a court inquiry ordered by the Port-au-Prince public prosecutor, citing a mandatory appearance at the Inspector General’s office, according to CNN.
“I have the honor to inform you, following the invitation sent to me by the public prosecutor’s office of Port au-Prince. I am currently under a precautionary measure ordered by the General Inspectorate of the Haitian Police,” he said in a letter to the public prosecutor that CNN has seen.
“As a result, I am not available to comply with the request of the public prosecutor,” he added. “While I am willing to respond once this protective measure expires, I respectfully request a stay of execution from your office for this purpose as may be required.”
Herard traveled to Ecuador through the Colombian capital of Bogota at the end of May, according to the Colombian National Police, CNN reported.
The force has said that it is investigating whether Herard, while in Colombia, met with any of the Colombian nationals allegedly involved in the attack.
But several people, including relatives of the Colombian suspects, told CNN the allegations don’t add up.
Matias Gutierrez, a retired Colombian special forces soldier, told CNN earlier this week that the 26 Colombian suspects were actually hired to provide security for Moïse. He added that he himself had been approached for the job by the Florida business.
“They only mentioned a company based in the US, and a job as private security in Haiti. Security for the President of Haiti, who was believed to be under death threat,” Gutierrez told the news outlet.
“It was all a plot. How can you have this type of assassination and not have a single dead but the President himself?” he said. “If my fellows had done the job, they would have had to enter the residence and kill the guards before killing the President. You would have seen a combat scene.”
CNN said he has tried to contact CTU Security since Saturday. Colombian authorities said they are working with Interpol to provide information on Intriago.
With Post wires