FLORIDA, United States (AP) — For the owner of a small private security company with a history of avoiding paying debts and declaring bankruptcy, it looked like a good opportunity: Find people with military experience for a job in Haiti.
Antonio “Tony” Intriago, owner of Miami-based CTU Security, seems to have jumped at the chance, hiring more than 20 former soldiers from Colombia for the mission. Now the Colombians have been killed or captured in the aftermath of the July 7 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, and Intriago's business faces questions about its role in the killing.
On Wednesday evening, Léon Charles, head of Haiti's National Police, accused Intriago of travelling to Haiti numerous times as part of the assassination plot and of signing a contract while there, but provided no other details and offered no evidence.
“The investigation is very advanced,” Charles said.
A Miami security professional believes Intriago was too eager to take the job and did not push to learn details, leaving his contractors in the lurch. Some of their family members back in Colombia have said the men understood the mission was to provide protection for VIPs.
Three Colombians were killed and 18 are behind bars in Haiti, Colombia's national police chief, General Jorge Luis Vargas, told reporters in Bogota. Colombian diplomats in Haiti have not had access to them.
Vargas has said that CTU Security used its company credit card to buy 19 plane tickets from Bogota to Santo Domingo for the Colombian suspects allegedly involved in the killing. One of the Colombians who was killed, Duberney Capador, photographed himself wearing a black CTU Security polo shirt.
Nelson Romero Velasquez, an ex-soldier and attorney who is advising 16 families of the Colombians held in Haiti, said Wednesday that the men had all served in the Colombian military's elite special forces and could operate without being detected, if they had desired. He said their behaviour made it clear they did not go to Haiti to assassinate the president.
“They have the ability to be like shadows,” Romero Velasquez said.
American soldiers had trained “a small number” of the Colombians when they were in active duty, the Pentagon said yesterday after running their names through databases. They were among thousands from Latin America and the Caribbean who receive training.
The predawn attack took place at the president's private home. He was shot to death and his wife wounded. It's not clear who pulled the trigger. The latest suspects identified in the sweeping investigation included a former Haitian senator, a fired government official and an informant for the US Government.