Haitian authorities announced Sunday (July 11) that they have arrested a Haitian man who is suspected of playing a lead role in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Police said Chrisitan Emmanuel Sanon, 63, planned to assume the presidency after Moïse’s death. The Washington Post reports that Sanon is reportedly a doctor in Florida with more than a dozen businesses in the state.
Authorities said that Sanon allegedly recruited some of the men who participated in the assassination by telling them they would be his bodyguards. He also allegedly planned to hire some of the men as his security team after he became president.
Haitian National Police Chief Leon charles said Sanon landed in Haiti on a private plane in early June with “political objectives.” He said Sanon recruited a team of men through a Venezuelan security firm based in the United States. Charles said one member of Sanon’s team was presented with an arrest warrant for Moïse.
Officials said a raid at Sanon’s house turned up a D.E.A. cap, (a video posted by Haitian media shows one of the individuals involved in the assault identifying themselves as D.E.A. agents), holsters, bullets, shooting targets and four Dominican Republic license plates, according to The New York Times.
The announcement of Sanon’s arrest came soon after senior FBI and Homeland Security officials landed in Haiti Sunday, to discuss how the U.S. government could assist after Moïse’s assassination.
The Post also reports that gangs in Port-Au-Prince have erupted into violence as they try to fill the power vacuum left by Moïse’s death. Port-Au-Prince’s most powerful gang leader, Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, has demanded “justice against this cowardly assassination carried out by foreign mercenaries in the country.”
In a video message posted July 10, Cherizer called on the city’s other gang leaders to join in on the violence. He and his alliance, called the G9 Family and Allies, say they’re leading a revolution to “liberate Haiti from a corrupt wealthy and political class,” according to the Post.
Acting Prime Minister Claude joseph has asked the United States and the United Nations to send troops for security. Joseph is one of four men claiming leadership of the government, with the other three including leaders of the country’s non-functioning Senate and opposition party.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Sunday that Joseph’s request for troops was under review. In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Kirby couldn’t say whether the events in Haiti are a matter of U.S. national security.
He said, “I don’t know that we’re at a point now where we can say [that]. But, clearly, we value our Haitian partners,” Kirby said. “We value stability and security in that country. And that’s why we want to send a team down there today to help them get their arms around exactly what happened and what’s the best way forward.