Lodi News-Sentinel

U.S. seeks to keep Haiti assassinat­ion suspects’ FBI, DEA ties quiet

- Jacqueline Charles and Jay Weaver

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.

 ?? VALERIE BAERISWYL/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES ?? A police convoy drives past a wall painted with the president’s image down the alley of the entrance to the residence of the president in Port-au-Prince on July 15, 2021, in the wake of Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s assassinat­ion on July 7, 2021.
VALERIE BAERISWYL/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES A police convoy drives past a wall painted with the president’s image down the alley of the entrance to the residence of the president in Port-au-Prince on July 15, 2021, in the wake of Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s assassinat­ion on July 7, 2021.

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