Joseph Vincent, a previous source for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), received a life sentence from a US court on Friday for his involvement in the 2021 killing of the president of Haiti.
A person who is both Haitian and American, Vincent confessed to being involved in a plan to assassinate the Haitian president Jovenel Moïse at his residence in Port-au-Prince. This included providing guidance on the political environment and meeting with influential members of the community.
Vincent is one of 11 individuals involved in the trial, which involves former Colombian soldiers and businessmen who are accused of providing financial support and weapons for the attack that took place at night.
On Friday, Frederick Joseph Bergmann Jr, a co-defendant, admitted to being involved in the assassination of Moïse. His sentencing date has been provisionally scheduled for April 18, 2024.
According to reports, the attackers disguised themselves as DEA agents during the incident. However, the DEA clarified that Vincent and James Solages, both of Haitian American descent, were not acting under the agency’s instruction.
At the time, Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to Washington, stated that the individuals who entered President Moïse’s well-protected residence and claimed responsibility for his murder identified themselves as members of the DEA.
Edmond described the event as a carefully planned and executed surprise attack. He revealed that the perpetrators posed as DEA agents, claiming to be involved in a DEA mission.
On social media, videos were shared showing a man speaking in English with an American accent through a megaphone. He said, “This is a DEA operation. Please stand down. I repeat, DEA operation. Everyone back up and stand down.”
Neighbors heard the sound of gunfire and witnessed individuals dressed in black running through the area.
Last summer, a federal court judge in Florida sentenced Rodolphe Jaar, a businessman of Haitian and Chilean descent, to life in prison, believing him to be the mastermind behind the assassination.
The court has ruled that Vincent will be incarcerated in a prison in Florida.
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.
Following the murder, Haiti has fallen into a state of turmoil, marked by widespread violence from street gangs and vigilantes. This has led to retaliation from communities, resulting in bloody acts of vengeance.
Reuters contributed reporting