In a case of “you reap what you sow,” foreign mercenaries speaking Spanish and English are believed to have staged a daring July 7 assassination of the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, at his home in Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. Some of the English-speakers reportedly had “Southern accents.” Moïse’s wife, Martine Moïse, was severely wounded in the attack. She was flown to Miami where she is listed in serious but stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Haitian ambassador to the United States Bocchit Edmond said Moïse’s assassins were “foreign mercenaries and professional killers” who were disguised as agents of the U.S. masquerading as agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Edmond added that the assassination plot was “well-orchestrated.” Haitian National Police chief Leon Charles announced that four mercenaries were killed in a gun battle that broke out with police following Moïse’s assassination. Others, he said, were still being hunted.
Ever since the George W. Bush administration let loose the dogs of war by authorizing the Central Intelligence Agency to contract the mercenary services of Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince, he and other brigands of private armies for hire have destabilized countries around the world, including Haiti, Libya, Yemen, Venezuela, Nigeria, South Sudan, Mozambique, Ukraine, and even the United States. It should be recalled that Prince, who sold Blackwater in 2010 to a murky group of investors, was involved in Donald Trump’s collusion with Russian interlocutors during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, including coordinating a secret meeting in Seychelles just prior to Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, served as Trump’s Education Secretary. It has recently been learned that Prince financed the political dirty tricks operations of Project Veritas and its principal player, James O’Keefe.
Amid the repercussions of Trump’s solicitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on his 2020 election opponent, Joe Biden, Time magazine has reported Prince was in Kyiv attempting to create a private mercenary army of Ukrainian combat veterans. Prince’s deal was connected to his former Blackwater executive, Joseph Schmitz, a Washington lobbyist whose father was John Schmitz, a far-right California congressman who traveled in neo-Nazi circles and sister was the infamous child rapist schoolteacher, Mary Kay Letourneau. Prince also worked through two Ukrainian interlocutors, Andriy Artemenko and Andriy Derkach, both Russian agents who were working with Rudolph Giuliani to facilitate co-opting Ukraine to participate in collecting dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Artemenko, who currently resides in the Washington, DC area and assists Prince’s “air cargo” operations as the principal of AirTrans LLC — a part of Prince’s shady Frontier Resource Group — and Derkach, a current member of the Ukrainian parliament, are currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, a probe which may also involve Prince.
Private military companies (PMCs) are officially illegal in Ukraine, but that did not deter Prince from trying to establish one there to a tune of a contract worth over $2 billion. In March, the Ukrainian SBU intelligence service raided a training camp in Kyiv Oblast operated by a PMC, DBC Corporation (Donbas Battalion Corp.), financed by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, currently under sanctions by the U.S. government. The PMC’s ranks included combat veterans of the Donbas Battalion, which has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and was looking for contract vehicles to provide security services in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Libya, countries where Prince’s mercenaries, based in Abu Dhabi, are active.
So, what does all of Prince’s intrigue have to do with Haiti? Plenty. By allowing Prince to operate as an independent gun-for-hire, the United States has helped create a worldwide network of privatized armies, ready and willing — for cash-on-the barrel head — to carry out coups, assassinations like that of President Moïse in Haiti, secessionist movements, and even genocide. Russia now has its mercenary force, Wagner Group, virtually running the Central African Republic as a Russian protectorate. Ukrainian intelligence relies on the mercenary firm Lancaster 6, which is run by Prince associate Christiaan Durrant.
Prince, who had become a virtual private military arm of the Trump White House, may have had his hand caught in the cookie jar in Haiti during a 2019 coup attempt. Haiti, which had been an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and a recipient of $2 billion in aid from the Venezuelan PetroCaribe Fund, was under intense pressure from the Trump administration to sever its ties to Venezuela. The U.S. responded to Haitian the non-committal on recognizing the pro-American puppet government of Juan Guaido by stepping up “regime change” operations against President Moïse and Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant. On February 7, 2019, violent protests began on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Cap Haïtien, Jeremie, Gonaïves, and Jacmel. More suspiciously, the U.S. State Department ordered all non-essential personnel out of the country following the outbreak of the anti-government demonstrations.
On February 17, 2019, Haitian police arrested a group of eight heavily-armed men traveling in two cars in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Among the group were five Americans, two Serbs, and a Haitian-American. In addition, the Serbians may have held permanent residency status in the United States. The Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that police discovered in the foreigners’ cars automatic rifles, 45-caliber and Glock pistols, a large amount of ammunition, drones, and satellite phones. Also found in the vehicles were a telescope, backpacks, bullet-proof vests, and various documents, including a list of names of Haitian citizens. The vehicles bore no license plates and the suspects’ passports had no Haitian visa entry stamps. The passports did show extensive travel to other countries prior to being in Haiti. Additionally, five Haitian license plates were found in the vehicles.
When arrested by police, the eight men refused to provide identification, insisting that they were on some sort of “government mission.” They did not identify the “government” for which they were working but insisted that they did not have to talk to the police. One of the arresting police officers said one of those arrested told him, “Our boss would call your boss.” The Americans arrested all had prior U.S. military service. Apparently, some sort of phone call was made because on February 20, the five Americans were flown from Haiti to Miami, where they were seen being handcuffed by law enforcement agents. The Haitian-American, Josué Leconte of Brooklyn — said to be a close friend of Moïse — escaped from Haiti to New York via the Dominican Republic.
It was later revealed that one of the American coup plotters was former U.S. Marine Corps C-130 pilot Kent Kroeker. He claimed that it was Moïse, himself, who was behind what amounted as a “self-coup,” similar to that carried out by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. Another coup plotter was identified as Dustin Porte, a French-speaking former member of the Louisiana National Guard and a contractor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A clear indication that the coup attempt may have involved Prince was the fact that among the coup plotters were Talon Burton, a former Blackwater mercenary, and two former Navy SEAL comrades of Prince — who was also a Navy SEAL — Christopher McKinley and Christopher Osman. Two Serbian nationals, Danilo Bajagic and Vlade Jankovic, were also members of the coup team.
Prime Minister Céant went on the radio to claim that the coup plotters intended to assassinate him and members of parliament. Suspiciously, after the failed coup, Moïse’s allies in parliament voted to oust Céant as prime minister.
Moïse’s assassination has created rival prime ministers in the country. Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who was going to be replaced by Moïse as the interim head of government by Ariel Henry, insists that he is the acting president of the country. However, Henry has stated, “I am the prime minister in office.” Normally, the chief justice of Haiti would step in to mediate such political disputes between claimants for power, but Chief Justice René Sylvestre died in June from Covid-19 and had not been replaced.
Joseph claims that four Haitians have been arrested for assassinating the president. However, the English and Spanish-speaking members of the hit team appear to have gotten away. And that, like the 2019 coup attempt, appears to be their modus operandi in Haiti. Foreign mercenaries carry out the “wet operations,” while a few local dupes are held responsible for the action.
In February of this year, Moïse claimed to have foiled another coup attempt against him. The Haitian police confiscated cash and several weapons, including assault rifles, an Uzi submachine gun, pistols, and machete, from 23 coup plotters, including a member of the nation’s Supreme Court and a National Police commander. The then-prime minister, Joseph Jouthe, announced, “These people had contacted national palace security officials, high-ranking officers at the national palace whose mission was to arrest the president . . . and also to facilitate the installation of a new president.” Moïse had, counter to the Constitution, remained in office past his legal term, which expired on February 7 this year.
Unless the Biden administration begins to hold international brigands like Prince responsible for their actions, we can expect more political destabilization like the repeated coup attempts in Haiti, the Haitian president’s assassination, a 2019 U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia and a January 2019 coup attempt in Venezuela involving ex U.S. Green Beret and Trump campaign security contractor Jordan Goudreau — the head of a Florida-based mercenary firm called Silvercorp USA — and even the U.S. insurrection attempt of January 6 of this year. A price must be paid for being an international mercenary and that should be thirty-to-life in a U.S. maximum security prison with no legalistic ifs, ands, or buts.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).