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Suspect in assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse is former DEA source

After Moïse's assassination, the suspect contacted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency said. An official urged the person to surrender.

One of the suspects arrested in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse is a former confidential source for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency said.

The news was reported by The Miami Herald, which said the suspect was first arrested over 20 years ago after allegedly providing false information for a U.S. passport application.

"At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was a confidential source to the DEA. Following the assassination of President Moïse, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA," the DEA said in a statement to NBC News. "A DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to surrender to local authorities and, along with a U.S. State Department official, provided information to the Haitian government that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual."

The DEA did not name the suspect, but two law enforcement officials identified him as Joseph Gertand Vincent.

Federal court records show that Vincent was arrested in November 1999 and charged in a D.C. court with making false statements on his passport application by giving an incorrect name and place of birth. He was sentenced to two years probation in October 2000.

Before his probation ended, Vincent was ordered to live in a community corrections center in Florida for violating the terms of his sentence.

Moïse was killed Wednesday after a group of assassins ambushed his Port-au-Prince home in what acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph called a "highly coordinated" attack. The president's wife, Martine Moïse, was injured in the early morning shooting and was flown to a hospital in Miami for medical treatment, according to the Haitian ambassador to the U.S.

Soldiers patrol in Pétion-Ville, the neighborhood where the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday.Joseph Odelyn / AP

“Haiti has lost a true statesman,” Joseph said. “We will ensure that those responsible for this heinous act are swiftly brought to justice.”

He said the group of assassins were "highly trained and heavily armed." He called the slaying a "hateful, inhumane and barbaric act."

Bocchit Edmond, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., previously said the assassins appeared to claim to be agents with the DEA.

State Department spokesman Ned Price refuted those claims as "absolutely false." The DEA again denied the reports in its statement to NBC News.

"DEA is aware of reports that President Moïse's assassins yelled 'DEA' at the time of their attack. These individuals were not acting on behalf of DEA," the agency said.

Haitian police have arrested 18 Colombians and three Haitian Americans over the murder. Five Colombians are still at large and three were killed, authorities said.

One of those arrested was Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, whom authorities said flew to Haiti on a private jet in early June accompanied by hired security guards. National Police Chief Leon Charles said Sanon wanted to take over as president.