The U.S. military once trained some of the Colombian soldiers arrested in connection to the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, according to the Pentagon.
At least 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans were said to have participated in the incident where armed men stormed Moise's home on July 7 and shot both him and his wife, Martine, who is expected to recover from her injuries, with high-powered rifles. A Pentagon spokesperson did not confirm exactly how many of the arrestees received U.S. training, though he indicated the service members were instructed while they were actively serving in the Columbian armed forces.
"A review of our training databases indicates that a small number of the Colombian individuals detained as part of this investigation had participated in past U.S. military training and education programs, while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces," Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman told the Washington Examiner in an email on Thursday.
South American officials have indicated that at least 13 of the Columbian suspects in the plot were once soldiers in the country's military.
On Thursday, Dimitri Herard, who helmed Moise's protective detail at the presidential palace, was detained by police in Haiti. The development was confirmed by a law enforcement spokesperson, according to the New York Times.
Herard was one of four individuals tasked with protecting the leader who have been sought for questioning in the aftermath of his death, as authorities have raised questions about how the attack could have taken place. The head of the presidential guard and two other security personnel were detained earlier in the week.
At the time of the assassination, the armed men identified themselves as members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, though U.S. authorities have maintained the DEA was not involved in the killing.
However, the DEA has confirmed that one of the Haitian American suspects arrested in connection to the violence was a confidential informant. Joseph Vincent, a 55-year-old Florida resident, and James Solages, 35-year-old Haitian American Florida resident, were apprehended by authorities last week. The agency did not specify which of the two was the informant.
"Following the assassination of President Moise, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA," the law enforcement body said in a statement. "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 informant suspect was arrested once before, over two decades ago, for allegedly providing false information to obtain a U.S. passport. Following the apprehension, he became a source "at times" for the DEA.
A third Haitian American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, has since been arrested and accused of being the lead organizer of the plot.
Haiti's interim government, spearheaded by temporary premier Claude Joseph, has requested U.S. military assistance to maintain order in the poor nation that has since seen spouts of social unrest following Moise's death. President Joe Biden has not ruled out sending help, and a U.S. delegation made up of agents with the FBI and Homeland Security arrived on Haitian shores earlier in the week.
On Sunday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby indicated the military was "analyzing" a request from Haiti, though the situation was not an immediate U.S. security threat.
"We are aware of the request by the Haitian government," Kirby said during a segment on Fox News. "We're analyzing it, just like we would any other request for assistance here at the Pentagon. It's going through a review. I'm not going to get ahead of that process."