Miami security firm facing questions over Haiti assassination
MIAMI (AP) – For the owner of a small private security firm who is used to avoiding paying debts and declaring bankruptcy, this seemed like a good opportunity: to find people with military experience for a job in Haiti.
Antonio “Tony” Intriago, owner of Miami-based CTU Security, appears to have jumped at the chance, hiring more than 20 former Colombian soldiers for the mission. Now Colombians have been killed or captured in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, and Intriago’s company faces questions about its role in the murder.
On Wednesday evening, Léon Charles, head of the Haitian National Police, accused Intriago of having visited Haiti several times as part of the assassination plot and of having signed a contract there, but did not provided no further details and offered no evidence.
“The investigation is very advanced,” said Charles.
A Miami security professional believes Intriago was too eager to take on the job and didn’t insist on learning the details, leaving his contractors in awe. Some family members in Colombia said the men understood the mission to be to protect prominent figures.
Three Colombians have been killed and 18 are behind bars in Haiti, Colombian national police chief General Jorge Luis Vargas told reporters in Bogota. Colombian diplomats in Haiti did not have access to it.
Vargas said CTU Security used its corporate credit card to purchase 19 plane tickets from Bogota to Santo Domingo for Colombian suspects allegedly involved in the murder. One of the Colombians killed, Duberney Capador, pictured himself wearing a black CTU security polo shirt.
Nelson Romero Velasquez, a former soldier and lawyer who advises 16 families of Colombians detained in Haiti, said on Wednesday the men had all served in the Colombian army’s elite special forces and could operate undetected, if they had wished. He said their behavior made it clear that they had not gone to Haiti to assassinate the president.
“They have the ability to be like shadows,” Romero Velasquez said.
The pre-dawn attack took place at the president’s private home. He was shot and his wife injured. It is not known who pulled the trigger. The latest suspects identified in the in-depth investigation included a former Haitian senator, a dismissed government official and a US government informant.
Miami has become the focal point of the probe. The city has long been a nest of intrigue, from a CIA recruiting center for the failed Bay of Pigs operation to topple Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to a key shipping point for Colombian cocaine in the 1980s. Its palm-fringed shores were also a place of exile for people in Latin America and the Caribbean when political winds blew against them at home and some planned their return.
Homeland Security Investigations, a U.S. agency tasked with investigating cross-border crimes, is also investigating the assassination, said a Department of Homeland Security official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the murder. ‘case. He declined to provide details.
The FBI says it “provides investigative assistance” to Haitian authorities.
Intriago, who immigrated from Venezuela more than a decade ago and participated in activities in Miami against the leftist regime in his native country, did not respond to multiple interview requests.
He enjoys being surrounded by powerful people and has posted photos on social media showing off with them, including Colombian President Ivan Duque.
Duque’s office on Monday denied any knowledge of Intriago, saying Duque was in Miami while campaigning for the presidency in February 2018. He posed for photos with some of those in attendance, but Duque did not have no meeting or connection with Intriago, the Colombian. the president’s office said.
Florida state records show that Intriago’s company has changed its name in the past twelve years from CTU Security to CS Security Solutions to Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy LLC.
CTU lists two Miami addresses on its website. One is a closed warehouse with no signage. The other is a small office suite under a different name. A receptionist said the CTU owner stops by once a week to collect mail.
The company’s website says it offers “first-class personalized products and services to law enforcement and military units, as well as industrial customers.”
But he avoided paying some of these wholesale companies for their products. Florida records show the Intriago company was ordered by a court to pay a 2018 debt of $ 64,791 to a weapons and tactical equipment supply company, RSR Group. Propper, a manufacturer of military clothing, also sued for non-payment.
Alexis Ortiz, a writer who worked with Intriago to organize meetings of Venezuelans expatriates in the United States, described him as a “very active and knowledgeable collaborator”.
“He looked nice,” Ortiz said.
Richard Noriega, who heads International Security Consulting in Miami, said he did not know Intriago personally but had watched the situation unfold. Noriega, who is also from Venezuela, believes Intriago was drawn to the prospect of quick cash and failed to do due diligence.
Putting herself in Intriago’s shoes, Noriega said, “I’m coming out of a complicated situation – of work, of income, of money. An opportunity presents itself. I don’t want to lose it.
Normally, a security company would research all the details of an operation, to determine the number of people to use and the level of assurance they would need. A priority would be planning for an emergency exit in case things go wrong, he said.
“The first thing we (security professionals) need to consider is evacuation. Where will they go out? It’s the first thing I do, ”Noriega said.
But apparently this planning never happened, perhaps because the Colombians, or at least some of them, thought their mission was harmless.
He said it doesn’t seem logical that if the highly trained Colombians were there to kill the president, they wouldn’t have had an escape route. Instead, they were caught, some hidden in bushes, by local people and the police.
“It’s very murky,” Noriega said.
Selsky, a former Associated Press bureau chief in the Caribbean and Colombia, reported from Salem, Oregon. PA editors Joshua Goodman in Miami, Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Manuel Rueda and Astrid Suarez in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.