A United States court sentenced Joseph Vincent, a former informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to life in prison on Friday for his involvement in the 2021 murder of Haiti’s president.
Vincent, a Haitian American citizen, confessed to participating in a plan to assassinate President Jovenel Moïse in his residence in Port-au-Prince. This included providing guidance on the political climate and coordinating with influential members of the community.
Vincent is one of the 11 individuals involved in the case, which involves Colombian former soldiers and businessmen who are accused of aiding in the provision of funds and weapons and executing the attack during the night.
Frederick Joseph Bergmann Jr, a co-defendant, pleaded guilty on Friday for his involvement in the assassination of Moïse. His sentencing is currently scheduled for April 18, 2024.
The attackers posed as DEA agents during the incident, but the DEA clarified that Vincent and James Solages, both Haitian Americans, were not affiliated with the agency.
According to Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to Washington, the individuals who entered President Moïse’s heavily guarded residence and killed him claimed to be part of the DEA.
Edmond described the attack as a highly coordinated commando mission. He stated that the assailants masqueraded as DEA agents and claimed to be carrying out a DEA operation.
A man with an American accent was captured on social media videos using a megaphone to announce: “This is a DEA operation. Please stand down and back up.”
Neighbors heard shots and observed men wearing black running in the neighborhood.
Last summer, a federal court judge in Florida sentenced Rodolphe Jaar, a businessman from Haiti and Chile, to life imprisonment for his alleged involvement in the assassination.
The court has decided that Vincent will be incarcerated in a Florida prison.
Moïse’s widow, the first lady Martine Marie Étienne Moïse, was wounded during the attack on her husband but has since recovered. She said in 2021 that her husband’s murderers “came to kill his dream, his vision, his ideology” for the western hemisphere’s most impoverished nation.
After the murder, Haiti has plunged into turmoil, with rampant violence from gangs and self-appointed defenders, and neighborhoods retaliating with brutal acts of their own.
Reuters contributed reporting