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Man Convicted of Assassinating Haitian Leader

A former confidential informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Joseph Vincent, a dual Haitian-American citizen, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moise. The murder took place in 2021, causing unprecedented turmoil in the Caribbean nation. Vincent, who attended meetings in South Florida and Haiti ahead of the assassination, is the fourth of 11 defendants in Miami to plead guilty.

According to authorities, around 20 Colombian citizens and several dual Haitian-American citizens participated in the plot. Initially, the conspirators planned to kidnap Moise, but eventually opted to kill him. The plotters aimed to secure contracts under Moise’s successor. Vincent, wearing a prisoner’s beige shirt and pants, pleaded guilty at a hearing before federal Judge Jose E Martinez, which lasted 20 minutes.

During the hearing, Vincent was handcuffed and had shackles on his ankles, seated next to his lawyer, Kenneth Swartz. He responded “Guilty, your honor” after the judge asked him how he would plead. Vincent reached a plea agreement with the prosecutors, agreeing to collaborate with the investigation, and the government would withdraw two accusations of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States.

The judge set Vincent’s sentencing hearing for February 9, 2024. Other defendants who have pleaded guilty include retired Colombian army officer German Alejandro Rivera Garcia, who was sentenced to life in prison in October; Haitian-Chilean businessman Rodolphe Jaar, who also was sentenced to life in prison in June; and former Haitian senator John Joel Joseph, who was detained in Jamaica before being extradited to Miami last year and is set to be sentenced on December 19.

Haitian President Jovenel Moise (Via Jovenel Moise/Twitter)

The defendants are part of a conspiracy hatched in Haiti and Florida that ended with mercenaries gunning down Moise at his private home near the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince on July 7, 2021. Vincent was close to Haitian-American suspects James Solages and Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a South Florida resident and pastor whose ambition to replace Moise as president led to the assassination, according to charges filed by the prosecutors.

More than 40 suspects have been arrested in the case in Haiti, most of them shortly after Moise was fatally shot in the attack that also injured his wife, Martine Moise. Among those detained are 18 former Colombian soldiers accused of taking part in the plot and several high-ranking Haitian police officers.

The aftermath of the assassination has seen a surge in gang violence in Haiti, with the prime minister requesting the immediate deployment of a foreign armed force in October 2022. The UN Security Council voted to send a multinational force led by Kenya to help fight gangs in October of this year, but the deployment has been delayed.

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