Corrected: Four Florida Men Arrested in Plot to Kill Haitian President, Grand Jury Returns Indictment Against 11
CORRECTION: The original press release is corrected to reflect that three U.S. citizens and one legal permanent were arrested today. Defendant Intriago is a U.S. citizen (Venezuelan American), not a legal permanent resident.
MIAMI – This morning, U.S. federal law enforcement arrested two U.S. citizens and a legal permanent resident living in South Florida and one U.S. citizen living in Tampa pursuant to criminal complaints on charges relating to their participation in the events leading to the July 7, 2021, assassination of President Jovenel Moise of Haiti. Following the arrests, a South Florida grand jury returned a third superseding indictment charging these four individuals, along with seven others previously arrested and charged in the U.S., for their alleged roles in the plot.
The four men arrested in Florida today are: Arcangel Pretel Ortiz, 50, a Colombian national and U.S. permanent resident of Miami; Antonio Intriago 59, a Venezuelan American, Walter Veintemilla, 54, an Ecuadorian American of Weston; and Frederick Bergmann, 64, of Tampa.
They are scheduled for initial federal court appearances today in Miami before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis.
With today’s arrests, 11 people now face charges in the Southern District of Florida in connection with the assassination. The third superseding indictment charges Ortiz, Intriago, and Veintemilla as well as James Solages, 37, Joseph Vincent, 57, and German Alejandro Rivera Garcia, 44, who were transferred into U.S. custody last month; Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, 43, arrested January 2022; Rodolphe Jaar, 49, arrested January 2022; and Joseph Joel John, 51, arrested May 2022. These defendants—Ortiz, Intriago, Veintemilla, Solages, Vincent, Rivera, Palacios, Jaar, and John—are charged with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a conspiracy to kidnap or kill outside the United States, resulting in death; providing material support and resources to a conspiracy to kidnap or kill outside the United States, resulting in death; and conspiracy to kill or kidnap a person outside the United States.
The superseding indictment additionally charges Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 64, and Bergmann with: conspiracy to commit export violations; submitting false and misleading export information; and smuggling ballistic vests from the United States to Haiti. As with Solages, Vincent, and Rivera, Sanon was transferred from Haitian custody into U.S. custody last month.
According to court documents, from at least February 2021 to July 2021, South Florida served as a central location for planning and financing the plot to oust President Moïse from power and replace him with someone who would serve the coconspirators’ political goals and financial interests.
Ortiz and Intriago are principals of Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy and Counter Terrorist Unit Security (collectively, CTU), and Veintemilla is a principal of Worldwide Capital Lending Group (Worldwide). CTU and Worldwide are South Florida companies. Bergmann, who lived in Tampa, had ties to Sanon, a dual Haitian-American citizen who held political aspirations in Haiti, say the charging documents.
As alleged, in April 2021, Ortiz, Intriago, John, Solages and Sanon met in South Florida and agreed to a plan: Ortiz and Intriago – through CTU – would support ousting Haitian President Moïse and replacing him with Sanon. In exchange, once Sanon became President, he would award lucrative contracts to CTU for infrastructure projects in Haiti, the provision of security forces, and the provision of military type equipment to a Sanon-led Haitian government, according to the allegations.
It is alleged that in late April 2021, Veintemilla and his company Worldwide, agreed to help finance the coup d’etat, extending a $175,000 line of credit to CTU and sending money to co-conspirators in Haiti to purchase ammunition. Veintemilla expected to reap significant financial benefits through Worldwide should President Moise be replaced as president, as did Ortiz and Intriago through CTU.
Further planning and spending continued in South Florida from April to June 2021, according to the charging documents. For example, Ortiz and Intriago, as principals of CTU, retained a group of about 20 Colombian nationals with military training (including Rivera and Palacios) to provide security to Sanon. Bergmann became a supporter and investor who helped fund the Colombians’ lodging in Haiti and worked with Sanon and Intriago to ship 20 CTU-branded ballistic vests from South Florida to Haiti by falsifying the required export documentation.
By June 2021, the plan evolved as Ortiz, Intriago, Veintemilla and others apparently realized that Sanon had neither the constitutional qualifications nor the popular support of the Haitian people to become President. They shifted their support from Sanon to a former Haitian Supreme Court judge. This new candidate contracted with CTU and Worldwide to serve the companies’ financial interests upon becoming President.
It is also alleged that by June 2021, the plot progressed from forcibly removing Moïse from power to assassinating him. In particular, the conspiracy began to focus on assassination after an unsuccessful effort to seize President Moïse on a return trip to Haiti and spirit him away by airplane to a location outside the country.
According to the charging documents, from South Florida, Ortiz and Intriago managed and directed other members of the conspiracy – including Solages, a CTU representative in Haiti (who coordinated with Vincent and Sanon) and the Colombian nationals who participated in the assassination (through Rivera and/or another Colombian leader in Haiti who was killed while attempting to leave the scene of the assassination).
It is alleged that John, a former Haitian Senator, and Jaar both helped secure weapons and provided other support.
On July 6, 2021, co-conspirators met at a house near President Moïse’s residence, where firearms and equipment were distributed, and it was announced that the mission was to kill President Moïse, according to the allegations. On July 7, 2021, several individuals arrived outside President Moïse’s residence, some of whom were wearing CTU-branded ballistic vests. They entered the President’s home and killed him.
If convicted, Ortiz, Intriago, Veintemilla, Solages, Vincent, Garcia, Palacios, Jaar, and John face up to life in prison. Bergmann and Sanon face 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 Deputy Executive Associate Director for Homeland Security Investigations Anthony Salisbury.
FBI and HSI investigated these cases, with valuable assistance provided by Department of State, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security Office of Export Enforcement, and the Department of Defense’s Criminal Investigative Service.
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 case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Paster is handling asset forfeiture. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided valuable assistance.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida