WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- The U.S. military helped train a “small number” of the Colombian suspects who have been arrested in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.
“A review of our training databases indicates that a small number of the Colombian individuals detained as part of this investigation had participated in past U.S. military training and education programs while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces,” Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
The news was first reported by the Washington Post.
Colombian officials have said 13 Colombians implicated in the attack are retired members of the country’s military, 11 of them have been arrested and two were killed as Haitian police conducted a manhunt for the killers. The commander of Colombia’s Armed Forces, Gen. Luis Fernando Navarro, said the 13 Colombians left the military between 2018 and 2020.
Moïse was murdered in his private residence on July 7 in a shocking assault that has jolted the Caribbean country and sowed political chaos among its leaders. Haitian officials have said Moïse was killed by a team of foreign “mercenaries” that included the Colombian suspects and as many as three Americans.
Colombia has been a major beneficiary of U.S. military assistance for decades, with Washington spending millions of dollars annually to train and equip the country’s armed forces.
The Pentagon regularly trains thousands of troops from allied countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean, Hoffman said.
U.S.-trained Colombian soldiers have been recruited by private security firms in global conflict zones.
On Sunday, Haitian police arrested a 63-year-old Haitian man who lived in Florida, Christian Emmanuel Sanon. Officials said Moïse’s alleged killers were protecting Sanon and that he wanted to be president of Haiti.
The Biden administration sent a team of U.S. law enforcement officials to Haiti on Sunday and the FBI has said it is assisting Haitian officials in the investigation.
Haitian authorities have said the assassination involved at least 28 people who were hired through a Florida-based security company.
According to another recent report, several of the people suspected of involvement in the assassination worked as US government informants.
Citing people briefed on an investigation into the killing, CNN reported this week that U.S. investigators were grappling with an increasing number of Florida links to the hit squad that killed President Moise at his private residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) admitted in a statement that at least one of the suspects “was a confidential source to the DEA.”
Other suspects also had U.S. ties, including as informants for the FBI, according to the sources.
The FBI merely said it uses “lawful sources to collect intelligence.”