Florida suspect in murder of Haitian president deepens mystery

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The arrest of a failed Haitian businessman living in Florida who authorities say played a key role in the assassination of the Haitian president deepened the mystery on Monday into a conspiracy already convoluted surrounding the assassination.

Haitian authorities have identified the suspect as Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 62, who has previously expressed a desire to rule his country in a YouTube video. However, he is unknown in Haitian political circles, and associates have suggested that he was duped by those really behind the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in a bombing last week that seriously injured his wife. Martine, who remains hospitalized in Miami.

A Florida friend of Sanon told The Associated Press that the suspect is an evangelical Christian pastor and a medical doctor in Haiti, but not in the United States. by people claiming to represent the US state and the justice departments who wanted to install him as president.

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He said the plan was for Moses to be arrested, not killed, and Sanon would not have participated if he had known that Moses would be murdered.

“I guarantee you,” said the associate. “It was supposed to be a mission to save Haiti from hell, with the support of the US government.”

Supporters of former senator Youri Latortue and Steven Benoit set fire to tires in front of the Port-au-Prince courthouse on Monday, July 12, 2021. The investigation into the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.  (AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn)
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Supporters of former senator Youri Latortue and Steven Benoit set fire to tires in front of the Port-au-Prince courthouse on Monday, July 12, 2021. The investigation into the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. (AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn)

Echoing these sentiments, the Rev. Larry Caldwell, a pastor from Florida, said he worked with Sanon to establish churches and medical clinics in Haiti from 2000 to 2010. He does not believe that Sanon was involved in any crimes. violence.

“I know the character of man,” Caldwell said. “You take a man like that and then you go and say that he participated in a brutal crime of murder, knowing that being associated with it would send him to the abyss of hell? … If there was one a man who would be ready to stand in the gap to help his country, he would be a Christian. “

Haiti’s national police chief Léon Charles said Moses’ killers were protecting Sanon, whom he accused of working with those who plotted the assassination.

Charles said officers found a hat with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration logo, 20 boxes of bullets, gun parts, four Dominican Republic license plates, two cars and correspondence, among others, in the house of Sanon in Haiti.

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Twenty-six former Colombian soldiers are suspected of having killed and 23 were arrested, along with three Haitians. Charles said five suspects were still at large and at least three had been killed.

“They are dangerous individuals,” Charles said. “I’m talking about commandos, specialized commandos.”

A US Drug Enforcement Administration official told AP that one of the suspects in the Moses murder was sometimes a confidential agency source, and that the suspect contacted his DEA contacts after the murder and had been invited to surrender. The official said the DEA and a US State Department official provided the Haitian government with information that led to the surrender and arrest of a suspect and another individual, which he did not has not identified.

Supporters of former senator Steven Benoit shout outside the courthouse as he leaves after being summoned for questioning in Port-au-Prince on Monday, July 12, 2021. Prosecutors have called for senior politicians level as Benoit are meeting with officials for questioning in connection with the investigation into the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.  (AP Photo / Fernando Llano)

Supporters of former senator Steven Benoit shout outside the courthouse as he leaves after being summoned for questioning in Port-au-Prince on Monday, July 12, 2021. Prosecutors have called for senior politicians level as Benoit are meeting with officials for questioning in connection with the investigation into the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. (AP Photo / Fernando Llano)

Meanwhile, Colombian National Police Chief Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas said a Florida-based company CTU Security used his credit card to purchase 19 plane tickets from Bogota to Santo Domingo. for Colombian suspects. Most arrived in the Dominican Republic in June and moved to Haiti within weeks, Vargas said.

He said Dimitri Hérard, head of general security at Haiti’s National Palace, had flown to Colombia, Ecuador and Panama in the months leading up to the assassination, and Colombian police are investigating to find out. if he played a role in recruiting mercenaries. In Haiti, prosecutors seek to question Hérard about the assassination.

Charles said Sanon was in contact with CTU security and the company recruited murder suspects. He said Sanon traveled to Haiti in June on a private jet accompanied by several of the suspected gunmen.

The suspects’ original mission was to protect Sanon, but then they were given a new order: arrest the president, Charles said.

“The operation started from there,” he said, adding that 22 more suspects had joined the group.

Charles said that after Moses’ death, a suspect called Sanon, who came into contact with two people believed to be the masterminds of the plot. He did not identify them and did not say whether the police knew who they were.

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Sanon’s associate said he attended a recent meeting in Florida with Sanon and a dozen others, including Antonio Enmanuel Intriago Valera, a Venezuelan emigrant in Miami who heads CTU security. He said a presentation had been made to rebuild the country, including its water supply system, convert waste into energy and repair roads.

He said Sanon asked why the security team accompanying him to Haiti was entirely Colombian. Sanon was told Haitians cannot be trusted and the system is corrupt, the associate said. He said Sanon called him from Haiti days before the assassination and said the Colombians were missing.

“I’m on my own. Who are these people? I don’t know what they’re doing,” the quoted associate Sanon said.

Sanon “is completely gullible,” the associate added. “He thinks God is going to save everything.”

Sanon lived in Broward County, Florida, as well as Hillsborough County on the Gulf Coast. Records also show he resided in Kansas City, Missouri. He filed for bankruptcy in Florida in 2013 and introduced himself as a doctor in a YouTube video titled “Leadership for Haiti.”

However, records show that Sanon was never licensed to practice medicine or any other profession covered by the Florida Department of Health.

Sanon said in court documents filed in a 2013 Florida bankruptcy case that he was a doctor and pastor at the Evangelical Tabernacle in Tabarre, Haiti. He said he had stakes in companies including the Organization of Rome Haiti, which he identified as a non-governmental organization, a radio station in Haiti, and medical facilities in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

At the time of his bankruptcy, he and his wife declared income of $ 5,000 per month and a house in Brandon, Florida worth approximately $ 143,000, with a mortgage of over $ 367,000. A federal bankruptcy trustee later determined that they had concealed the approximately 35-acre property in Haiti from creditors.

Florida records show that Sanon has started a dozen businesses over the past 20 years, all of which have failed, including those that appeared to be related to medical imaging, physiotherapy, the fossil fuel trade, l real estate and veganism.

In a 2011 YouTube video, Sanon denounced Haiti’s rulers as corrupt, accusing them of stripping the country of its resources, saying, “They don’t care about the country, they don’t care about the people.

He falsely claimed that Haiti possessed uranium, oil and other resources which were taken by government officials.

“Nine million people cannot live in poverty when we have so many resources in the country. It is impossible,” he said. “We need new leadership that will change the way of life.”

Sanon’s arrest comes as a growing number of politicians have challenged interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who is currently in charge of Haiti with support from the police and military.

US officials, including representatives from the US Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, met on Sunday with Joseph, designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti’s dismantled Senate, whom supporters have named president provisional in a challenge to Joseph, according to the White House National Security Council.

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The delegation also met with the Haitian National Police and reviewed the security of critical infrastructure, he said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the delegation had received a request for further assistance. She said a potential deployment of US troops remained “under consideration”, but also suggested that political uncertainty in Haiti was a complicating factor.

“What is clear from their trip is that there is a lack of clarity about the future of political leadership,” Psaki said.

US President Joe Biden said he was following developments closely, adding: “The Haitian people deserve peace and security, and Haitian political leaders must unite for the good of their country.

Meanwhile, deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said Haiti’s request for security assistance was under consideration.

The United Nations has been involved in Haiti on and off since 1990, but the last United Nations peacekeepers left the country in 2017.

___

Fox reported from Washington, Spencer reported from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Associated Press editors Manuel Rueda in Bogotá, Colombia, Mike Balsamo in Washington, and Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report.

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