Fort Lauderdale suspect claimed to previously command body guards for Canadian embassy in Haiti
At least one US citizen has been “arrested” following the assassination of the Haiti president as video emerged of an attacker yelling “this is a DEA operation” with an American-sounding accent.
The footage was taken in the dark of night looking down on the property of Jovenel Moïse, with one of the men using a megaphone to claim they were agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While the US embassy confirmed to the Associated Press that the DEA has an office in the Haitian capital, Department of State spokesman Ned Price denied the US had any involvement in the murder. Haiti ambassador Bocchit Edmond said previously they were “fake DEA”, based on his impression from security camera footage.
In the video of the attack, flashlights can be seen illuminating parts of the property as the speaker switches from English to a different language.
A translation of the footage online showed the men yelling in a different language, “You guys better not shoot. Don’t shoot at the men, the men are not your enemy,” before returning to an American accent.
“This is an operation, this is an operation, DEA. Everybody go go go, continue, go, everybody, do not shoot.”
The man switches to another language: “Guys if you do not leave the operators will shoot at you guys … Guys, keep walking down. If you don’t keep walking down they will shoot at you.”
The men filming the footage comment that the attackers disarm security before saying “the president is gone”.
Haiti’s minister of elections and inter-party relations, Mathias Pierre, identified to both The Washington Post and The New York Times that US citizen James Solages, who is described as being of Haitian descent and a resident of South Florida, was arrested. He told the Post that at least one other person in custody is also believed to be a Haitian American.
While a Facebook page of James Solages from Fort Lauderdale has been removed, Heavy.com pulled detail from the search thumbnail to report that he was the same Mr Solages identified by Haiti officials.
Photos of two survivors from the police shootout that were arrested don’t appear to show a resemblance to the public profile of Mr Solages from South Florida, although four additional gunmen were killed by police.
Haiti officials said six of the group were “arrested” but were not clear on whether that that included the two taken into custody alive and the four killed by police in the shootout.
A biography from a non-profit operating in Haiti describes Mr Solages as president of its board of directors who was previously “chief commander of bodyguards for The Canadian embassy in Haiti”.
It says he serves as a politician promoting his country through economic development programs while working as a corporate executive in South Florida.
The six “foreign mercenaries” were captured or killed after a shootout in the streets of Haiti less than 24 hours after the country’s leader was assassinated.
Léon Charles, chief of Haiti’s National Police, said they chased the attackers as they left the crime scene and had been battling them since they were cornered in a nearby house.
Three officers held hostage were released after police surrounded and cleared the suspected hideout.
Other than Mr Solages, none of the other killed or captured suspects were identified and evidence of their links to the assassination have yet to be released. Additional attackers are believed to be at large.
“We will continue to hunt them down. Either they will be arrested, or they will be stopped in the exchange of fire. The pursuit will continue,” Mr Charles said at a press conference.