colombians haiti assassination
Detained suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. (Courtesy: Zumapress.com)

NEW YORK — When a team of assassins invaded the home of Haitian President Jovenel Moise this July, they ransacked his bedroom looking for files, his widow has said. Five months later, law enforcement and Haitian officials with knowledge of the unsolved assassination, say recovering a list of drug traffickers was a main priority for the killers because Moise was planning to turn over the list to the United States government, The New York Times reported

Among the names on the list, according to the report, was Charles Saint-Remy, the brother-in-law of former Haitian president Michel Martelly. Moise and Saint-Remy were known to be close associates.

The importance of the list to the hitmen could provide a window into the motives behind the assassination, Haitian officials have said.

“I would be a fool to think that narco-trafficking and arms trafficking didn’t play a role in the assassination,” said Daniel Foote, who served as the U.S. special envoy to Haiti before stepping down last month.

Moise took multiple steps to crack down on the drug trade in the months leading up to his death, according to the Dec. 12 news article. Among them was investigating business sectors involved in money laundering and proposing to nationalize a seaport where illegal shipments have been found. In June, Moise ordered officials in Haiti’s Artibonite department to destroy an airstrip that was used for drug trafficking, the Times reported. 

So far, at least 45 arrests have been made in the Moise investigation. These include 23 people, mostly Colombians, suspected of storming the president’s residence on July 7. Twenty Haitian law enforcement officers have been arrested since July, and Samir Handal, a businessman accussed of helping to plan the assassination, was arrested last month, in Turkey

However, the investigation has stalled even with help from the U.S., whose DEA operation in Haiti is being ensnared in the plot because two of its former informants are among those arrested.

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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