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Haitian police officers identify 20 suspects in Haitian president’s assassination

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Varios detenidos por el asesinato del presidente haitiano Jovenel Mose son presentados a los reporteros junto con las armas y equipo que supuestamente utilizaron en el ataque, durante una conferencia de prensa el jueves 8 de julio de 2021 en la Direccin General de Polica, en Puerto Prncipe, Hait. (AP Foto/Joseph Odelyn)

MIAMI – Haiti’s police announced Friday evening that officers had detained the 18th Colombian accused of being involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

After the assassination, Haiti National Police Chief Léon Charles told reporters in Port-au-Prince that there were 28 suspects and three had died in a shootout. By Friday evening, the police had identified 20 suspects detained.

Colombian authorities identified the two killed during a shootout with Haitian authorities as Mauricio Javier Romero Medina, 45, and Duberney Capador Giraldo, 40, both Colombian military retirees.

Investigators are still searching for suspects. Haitian police identified the two Haitian Americans detained as Joseph Vincent and James Solages. Here is the list of 18 Colombian suspects detained:

  1. Jaimes Gersain Mendivelso
  2. German Alejandro Rivera Garcia
  3. John Jader Andela
  4. Neil Caceres Duran
  5. Alex Miyer Pena
  6. Carlos Giovani Guerrero Torres
  7. Angel Mario Yarce Sierra
  8. Alberto Jheyner Carmona Florez
  9. Francisco Eladio Uribe Ochoa
  10. Naiser Franco Castaneda
  11. Enalder Vargas Gomez
  12. John Jairo Suares Alegria
  13. Alejandro Girardo Zapata
  14. John Jairo Ramirez Gomez
  15. Victor Albeiro Pinera Cardona
  16. Manuel Antonio Grosso Guarin
  17. Juan Carlos Yepes Clabijo
  18. Edwin Blaunicet

Political tensions have grown. Joseph Lambert, the former head of the senate, wants to lead the country until the September elections. Before Moïse was killed, he designated Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon, as the next prime minister. The national police and the military recognize Claude Joseph as the interim prime minister.

As investigators work on putting together a complicated international puzzle, the numbers reported keep changing. On Friday, the Colombian military identified 13 of the suspects as retired members of the Colombian military.

Colombian National Police Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia told reporters on Friday in Bogotá four companies recruited 13 of the Colombian suspects in Haiti, including a retired lieutenant colonel. He said the groups traveled separately to the Dominican Republic to cross the border into Haiti.

The Haitian Americans, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, told Haitian authorities that they were part of an operation to arrest Moïse — not to kill him — and were only there as translators, Haitian Investigative Judge Clément Noël said, according to Le Nouvelliste, a Haitian newspaper published in French.

Schubert Dorisme, of Tamarac, said Solages, 35, is his wife’s nephew and he has known him for about seven years. He said he was in shock when he found out Wednesday night that Solages had been arrested in Port-au-Prince.

“He doesn’t have military training,” Dorisme said Thursday afternoon. “He wasn’t in the military.”

Suspects in the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, among them Haitian-American citizens James Solages, left, and Joseph Vincent, second left, are shown to the media at the General Direction of the police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. Moise was assassinated in an attack on his private residence early Wednesday. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Dorisme said Solages travels to Haiti regularly to do charity work and visit his parents. State records show he was the president of FWA SA A JACMEL AVAN, INC., a Florida nonprofit organization named after Jacmel, a port town on the south coast of Haiti.

Dorisme said Solages had once dreamed of being the mayor of Jacmel.

ABC's Aicha El Hammar confirmed with Haiti's Minister of Election Matthias Pierre that a US citizen of Haitian descent- identified as James Solages-is a suspect in President Jovenel Moise's assassination and was detained Wednesday. Solages was detained on Wednesday, according to Pierre. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

“Yeah, he helped in Haiti ... there is no way that thing would happen. That’s why I say probably somebody else used him,” Dorisme said. “I mean, we cannot believe it. I love my president ... I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s capable to do these things. I think somebody used him.”

Florida records show Solages had expired security officer and firearm licenses.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a news conference in Washington that President Joe Biden’s administration is “in close consultations” with Haitian and international partners to “support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president.”

Colombian news conference (Spanish)

Complete coverage

Coverage on July 8

People look into the window of a police car carrying the bodies of two people killed in a shooting with police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. According to Police Chief Leon Charles, the two dead are suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Mose. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Coverage on July 7

A member of security forces cordons off access to the residence of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Gunmen assassinated Moise and wounded his wife in their home early Wednesday. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.