U.S. seeks to keep Haiti assassination suspects’ FBI, DEA ties quiet
MIAMI — The undercover work of former U.S. government informants suspected of plotting to kill Haiti’s president has compelled Miami federal prosecutors to seal off evidence about their past activities in the interest of U.S. national security, saying the information is classified and cannot be turned over to the defense in the widening investigation.
The decision means that the U.S. criminal case, which has run parallel to a faltering probe in Haiti, could become even more secretive in the United States and leave a trail of unanswered questions about how a group of Colombian commandos, a former FBI informant connected to a Miami-area security firm and two exDrug Enforcement Administration informants all came to be accused of participating in the deadly assault.
The U.S. move to protect classified evidence comes as the separate case in Haiti has stalled: the mandate of the fourth investigative judge expired on Monday with no formal charges brought against any of the roughly 40 suspects still jailed in Portau-Prince months after the Haitian president’s murder last July.
But one suspect who is not in custody is Arcángel Pretel Ortiz, believed by Haiti National Police to be “one of the heads” of the presidential assassination plot. Pretel, a Colombian with reported links to his native country’s military dating back to the 1990s, is believed to be a former FBI informant — a potentially embarrassing relationship for U.S. authorities.
Meanwhile, a former Haitian senator is set to be extradited from Jamaica to Miami to face U.S. charges in the high-profile assassination case. John Joël Joseph was cleared for extradition last week when a Jamaican prosecutor opted not to pursue charges that he illegally entered the English-speaking Caribbean nation. He, his wife and their two sons were arrested in early January at a house in a rural parish.