MIAMI – Today, U.S. federal law enforcement transferred into U.S. custody four men detained in Haiti to face criminal charges in the Southern District of Florida related to their alleged involvement in the July 7, 2021 assassination of former Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
A criminal complaint charges dual Haitian-American citizens James Solages, 37, Joseph Vincent, 57, and Colombian citizen German Alejandro Rivera Garcia, 44, with conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and providing material support and resources resulting in death, and conspiring to do so, knowing or intending that such support and resources would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.
A separate criminal complaint charges dual Haitian-American citizen Christian Sanon, 54, with conspiring to smuggle goods from the United States and cause export information not to be filed, as well as with smuggling goods from the United States and providing unlawful export information.
Solages, Vincent, Rivera, and Sanon are scheduled to make their initial federal court appearances tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes in Miami.
Including these four defendants, seven individuals are now in U.S. custody, charged with U.S. crimes for their roles in the assassination plot. The other men charged are Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, 43, Rodolphe Jaar, 49, and Joseph Joel John, 51, who were arrested last year.
As alleged in the complaints, Solages, Vincent, Rivera, Sanon, and others participated in crimes that culminated in the assassination of the Haitian President.
It is alleged that in April 2021, Solages, Sanon, and others met in South Florida to discuss regime change in Haiti and support for Sanon, an aspiring Haitian political candidate. After that meeting, a list of equipment and weapons needed for the regime change operation was shared with Solages, who then shared it with Sanon. According to the complaint, items on that list included rifles, machineguns, tear gas, grenades, ammunition, bulletproof vests, and other weapons and equipment.
In May 2021, Sanon contracted for equipment needed to support his “private military” forces in Haiti. His private forces included about 20 Colombian nationals with military training who were recruited to assist in the operation and provide security to Sanon. Rivera led the Colombian group, according to the allegations.
It is alleged that Sanon conspired with others to ship 20 ballistic vests for use by his private military forces from South Florida to Haiti on June 10, 2021. The vests were shipped without the required export license from the U.S. Department of Commerce and without the required export information filings.
In mid-June 2021, support for President Moïse’s replacement shifted to a former Haitian Supreme Court Judge. That Judge signed a document requesting assistance to further the arrest and imprisonment of President Moïse. In addition, a document purportedly signed by that Judge claimed to provide immunity in Haiti to those who participated in the operation.
On June 19, 2021, Solages, Vincent, Rivera, and others communicated about their plans to arrest President Moïse, detain him, and take him away in an airplane to an unknown location. The plan did not go forward when the conspirators failed to obtain the plane and necessary weapons for the operation.
On June 28, 2021, according to the charging documents, Solages traveled from Haiti to South Florida to share with others the documents purportedly 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.
It is alleged that on July 6, 2021, Solages, Vincent, Rivera, and others met at a house near President Moïse’s residence, where firearms and equipment were distributed and Solages announced that the mission was to kill President Moïse. On July 7, 2021, several individuals arrived outside President Moïse’s residence, some of whom were wearing ballistic vests. They entered the President’s home and killed him, according to the allegations.
Haitian authorities arrested Solages, Vincent, Rivera, and Sanon. They were detained in Haiti until today’s transfer to the United States.
Solages, Vincent, and Rivera face up to life imprisonment if convicted. Sanon faces up to 20 years if convicted. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Acting Special Agent in Charge Maged Behnam of the FBI Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Buckley of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami made the announcement.
FBI and HSI investigated these cases.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea Goldbarg and Monica Castro of the Southern District of Florida, Trial Attorneys Frank Russo and Jessica Fender of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, and Emma Ellenrieder of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Paster is handling asset forfeiture. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided valuable assistance.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case numbers 22-mj-04161 and 23-mj-02178.
originally published at HUMAN RIGHTS - USA DAILY NEWS 24