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Four more men charged in 2021 assassination of Haitian president

A photo of former Haitian president Jovenel Moïse is displayed in Port-au-Prince in July 2021. Moïse was assassinated that month after armed men surrounded his residence. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)
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The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it has charged four more men in connection with the July 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse that threw the Caribbean nation into constitutional chaos.

Aspiring Haitian politician Christian Sanon, 54, was charged with smuggling 20 ballistic vests from South Florida to Haiti on June 10, 2021, “for use by his private military forces,” officials said in a news release.

Records reveal how Haitian American held in assassination probe financed a ‘personal security’ team

The three others — Haitian American dual citizens James Solages, 37, and Joseph Vincent, 57, along with 44-year-old Colombian citizen German Alejandro Rivera Garcia — have been charged with conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and providing material support and resources toward the effort, officials said.

Vincent’s defense attorney Regina de Moraes told the Miami Herald that Vincent was happy to be in American custody and out of a Haitian jail: “The conditions of his imprisonment in Haiti were the equivalent of torture. My client has always been forthcoming with his knowledge of the events leading up to the tragic death of President Moïse.”

The Justice Department laid out its allegations on how the men planned and executed their operation.

Visual timeline: The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse

The men met in South Florida in April 2021 to “discuss regime change in Haiti and support for Sanon, an aspiring Haitian political candidate.” After the meeting, “a list of equipment and weapons needed for the regime change operation” was shared with Solages, who then shared it with Sanon. The list included rifles, machine guns, tear gas, grenades, ammunition, and bulletproof vests, the Justice Department said.

Sanon in May 2021 started acquiring equipment to support his “private military” forces, which included about 20 Colombian nationals with military training, recruited to help the operation and provide security for Sanon, authorities said. Rivera allegedly led the Colombian group.

In mid-June 2021, a former Haitian Supreme Court judge allegedly signed a document asking for help to arrest and imprison Moïse, which “claimed to provide immunity in Haiti to those who participated in the operation.”

On June 19, 2021, Solages, Vincent and Rivera along with others discussed a plan to capture Moïse and fly him to an unknown location, but couldn’t get a plane and weapons, according to the Justice Department.

A week later, investigators wrote, Solages traveled from Haiti to South Florida and shared with others documents allegedly signed by the Haitian judge “requesting assistance and immunity. Solages flew back to Haiti on July 1, 2021, to participate in the operation against the President.”

Solages, Vincent, Rivera and others met on July 6, 2021, at a house near Moïse’s residence “where firearms and equipment were distributed and Solages announced that the mission was to kill President Moïse.”

The next day, several people in ballistic vests entered the president’s home and killed him. Moïse’s assassination punctuated months of political instability and gang violence in the nation of 11 million people.

Solages, Vincent and Rivera face life in prison if convicted, according to the news release. Sanon faces up to 20 years if convicted.

The four men are scheduled to make their initial court appearances Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes in Miami.

Three others — Mario Antonio Palacios, 43, Rodolphe Jaar, 49, and Joseph Joel John, 51 — are already in U.S. custody on charges linked to the assassination.