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4 men arrested in the U.S. in assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse

11 people face charges in Southern Florida in connection with the investigation into Moïse's 2021 death, which unleashed chaos in the small Caribbean country.
A guest holds a picture of late Haitian President Jovenel Moise during a ceremony in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 20, 2021.
A guest holds a picture of late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at a ceremony in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 20, 2021.Valerie Baeriswyl / AFP via Getty Images file

Four men were arrested Tuesday in Florida in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, officials said.

Arcangel Pretel Ortiz, 50; Antonio Intriago 59; Walter Veintemilla, 54; and Frederick Bergmann, 64, are accused of engaging in a conspiracy to kill Moïse and replace him as president, according to the U.S. attorney's office for Southern Florida.

Three of the men are U.S. citizens and one, Ortiz, is a Colombian national and U.S. permanent resident of Miami, the U.S. attorney's office said.

With the arrests, a total of 11 people face charges in the Southern District of Florida in connection with the assassination.

Moïse died after he was shot 12 times at his home near the capital, Port-au-Prince, on July 7, 2021.

Ortiz and Intriago had financial stakes in a company called Counter Terrorist Unit Security (CTU), while Veintemilla was involved with Worldwide Capital Lending Group, federal prosecutors said. The men are accused of plotting to replace Moïse with Christian Emmanuel Sanon to gain lucrative contract deals with the government.

The federal prosecutor's office alleges that Veintemilla agreed to help fund the coup d'état through a $175,000 line of credit to CTU. The co-conspirators would also be funded to buy ammunition in Haiti, said the office, which alleged that Ortiz and Intriago then hired 20 men through CTU to provide security to Sanon.

Bergmann had personal ties to Sanon and invested in the group, the prosecutor's office said. He is accused of falsifying export documentation for 20 CTU-branded ballistic vests going from South Florida to Haiti.

"By June 2021, the plan evolved as Ortiz, Intriago, Veintemilla and others apparently realized that Sanon had neither the constitutional qualifications nor the popular support of the Haitian people to become President," the federal prosecutor's office said Tuesday. "They shifted their support from Sanon to a former Haitian Supreme Court judge."

Authorities have said that the original plan was to detain Moïse, force him onto a plane and whisk him to an unidentified location but that the plot crumbled when suspects couldn’t find a plane or sufficient weapons, according to court documents.

Ortiz, Intriago and Veintemilla are charged with one count each of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to carry out a kidnapping or a killing resulting in death, providing material support and resources to a conspiracy to kidnap or kill, resulting in death, and conspiracy to kill or kidnap a person.

Bergmann was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit export violations, submitting false and misleading export information, and smuggling ballistic vests from the U.S. to Haiti.

Tama Kudman, Veintemilla’s attorney, said his client would plead not guilty.

Ortiz, Intriago and Bergmann are in federal custody and do not have attorneys listed for them in the court records. Sanon's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As the U.S. investigation into the attempted coup pushes ahead, the probe in Haiti is nearly idle.

Three judges have stepped down from the case amid fears of reprisals, and a fourth one was dismissed. Meanwhile, no court hearings have been held for the more than 40 suspects arrested in Haiti, with many of them, including 18 Colombian soldiers, languishing in a severely overcrowded jail in Port-au-Prince that often lacks food and water.

Moïse's death has created a power vacuum in Haiti that has allowed gangs to gain more power and control more territory, with experts estimating that they control 60% of Port-au-Prince.

A spike in kidnappings, rapes and killings has prompted Prime Minister Ariel Henry to demand the immediate deployment of foreign troops. But the request in October has gone unheeded by the U.N. Security Council, which has opted to implement sanctions so far.

Henry himself was the subject of a failed assassination attempt in January 2022, when a group of "bandits and terrorists" tried to shoot him at a church. Video posted on social media showed Henry scrambling into a car as shots were fired.