26 Columbians Suspects in Assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse

Twenty-six Colombians have been named as suspects in last week's assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the Associated Press reported. Authorities have arrested 18 of the Colombians in addition to three Haitians who are also suspected.

At least three of the suspects have been killed, while five have not yet been detained by police, said Léon Charles, the head of Haiti's police. "They are dangerous individuals," he said. "I'm talking commando, specialized commando."

Authorities identified one of the Haitian suspects Sunday night as Christian Emmanuel Sanon. He is in his 60s, was living in Florida and says he is a doctor, the AP said. Charles said Sanon had made corruption allegations against Haiti's leaders and collaborated with the planners and assassins responsible for Moïse's death.

Authorities uncovered 20 boxes of bullets, gun parts, four car license plates from the Dominican Republic, a hat with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration logo, two cars and correspondence with unnamed people in Sanon's house after the assassination, Charles said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Haiti Village
Authorities have arrested 18 out of 26 Colombians suspected in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse last week. Above, a woman carries a basin with her belongings at the Petion-Ville market in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, four days after the president's murder. Matias Delacroix/AP Photo

"We continue to make strides," Charles said of police efforts to solve the brazen attack early Wednesday at Moïse's private home, which seriously wounded his wife, Martine Moïse, who is hospitalized in Miami.

Charles said Sanon was in contact with a firm that provides security for politicians and recruited the suspects in the killing. He said Sanon flew into Haiti on a private jet accompanied by several of the alleged gunmen.

The gunmen's initial mission was to protect Sanon, but they later received a new order: arrest the president, Charles said.

"The operation started from there," he said, adding that an additional 22 suspects joined the group and that contact was made with Haitian citizens.

Charles said that after Moïse was killed, one of the suspects phoned Sanon, who then got in touch with two people believed to be the intellectual authors of the plot. He did not identify the masterminds or say if police knew who they are.

The chief said Haitian authorities obtained the information from interrogations and other parts of the investigation. He added that police are working with high-ranking Colombian officials to identify details of the alleged plot, including when the suspects left Colombia and who paid for their tickets.

Sanon has lived in Florida, in Broward County and, on the Gulf Coast, Hillsborough County. Records show he has also lived in Kansas City, Missouri. He filed for bankruptcy in 2013 and identifies himself as a doctor in a video on YouTube titled "Leadership for Haiti."

In the video, he denounces the leaders of Haiti as corrupt, accusing them of stripping the country of its resources and saying that "they don't care about the country, they don't care about the people."

He claims Haiti has uranium, oil and other resources that have been taken by government officials.

"This is a country with resources," he said. "Nine million people can't be in poverty when we have so much resources in the country. It's impossible.... The world has to stop doing what they are doing right now. We can't take it anymore. We need new leadership that will change the way of life."

Sanon has posted little on Twitter but has expressed an interest in Haitian politics. In September 2010, he tweeted, "Just completed a successful conference in Port-Au-Prince. Many people from the opposition attended." A month later, he wrote: "Back to Haiti for an important meeting regarding the election. Pray for me for protection and wisdom."

Sanon's arrest comes as a growing number of politicians challenge interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who is currently in charge of Haiti with help from police and the military.

Joseph said Moïse's wife underwent surgery Saturday but is doing well, adding that the investigation into the killing remains a priority for the government.

"I congratulate the population for staying calm," he said Sunday night. "The plan was probably to kill the president and for the population to take to the streets and start looting."

While the streets were calm Sunday, government officials worry about what lies ahead and have requested U.S. and U.N. military assistance.

"We still believe there is a path for chaos to happen," Haiti Elections Minister Mathias Pierre told The Associated Press.

Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said on Fox News Sunday that the Pentagon is analyzing the request to send troops to Haiti and that no decisions have been made. He said a team, largely comprising agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, were heading to Haiti to help with the investigation of the assassination.

''I think that's really where are our energies are best applied right now, in helping them get their arms around investigating this incident and figuring out who's culpable, who's responsible and how best to hold them accountable going forward,'' Kirby said.

The United Nations has been involved in Haiti on and off since 1990, but the last U.N. military peacekeepers left the country in 2017.

Haitian Soldiers
Soldiers stand guard near the residence of Haiti's interim president, Claude Joseph, in Port-au-Prince on Sunday. Matias Delacroix/AP Photo