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Mystery Surrounds Florida Company Suspected In Assassination of Haiti's President

Police stand guard outside the residence of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince on July 15 in the wake of his assassination on July 7.
Police stand guard outside the residence of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince on July 15 in the wake of his assassination on July 7.

CTU Security billed itself as a kind of one-stop shop for providing security to VIPs, training in using handguns and rifles, and access to military-style equipment, including armored vehicles and bomb disposal suits. Its name — an acronym for Counter Terrorist Unit — suggested the company, which is based in the Miami suburb of Doral, Fla., could bring elite-level competence to any situation.

Now, the company has been linked to the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. The head of Haiti's National Police has singled out Antonio Intriago, the founder of CTU Security, as a focus of the agency's investigation. And the director of Colombian National Police said at a press conference that Colombians who took part in the assassination were paid by CTU.

Haiti's acting prime minister, Claude Joseph, said in an interview with NPR's Weekend Edition that investigators have been following "a huge plot" involving "a lot of money."

Still, the few details of the plot that have emerged raise questions about just how well-prepared or funded the suspected assassins may have been.

NPR reviewed court records and contacted former business partners of CTU Security and Intriago. Those records suggest CTU and Intriago have dealt with serious financial problems in recent years — including several eviction proceedings and lawsuits to recover tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Former associates of Intriago expressed shock and surprise that he or his small company could have had any involvement in an international assassination plot. In fact, they said they knew CTU primarily for selling security equipment such as body armor, or providing self-defense training.

Soon after the killing, Haitian authorities detained members of the group of alleged assassins, some of whom were hiding in bushes, according to witnesses. At least one suspect has acted as an informant to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He called his contacts with the DEA after the assassination, the DEA has confirmed, and those contacts urged him to surrender to authorities. About two dozen of the detained men came from Colombia, and family members have told Colombian and international media that they were hired by CTU to work in Haiti at a rate of $2,700 per month.

Intriago has not responded to multiple requests for comment from NPR and has not spoken publicly since the assassination.

Money problems for CTU and Intriago, an immigrant from Venezuela who has lived in Florida for decades, stretch back several years, the records suggest.

In 2011, a company that provides office space in Doral sought to evict CTU Security and obtained a court order against the company. Two years later, another landlord accused Intriago of being more than $1,000 behind on rent and also evicted him. Landlords tried to evict either Intriago or CTU Security from various properties again in 2015, twice (by two different landlords) in 2017, and once more in 2018. One of the 2017 cases involved accusations that Intriago owed more than $90,000 in back rent plus late fees.

Separately, court records show that three different companies, including two that work in the field of security equipment, also sued Intriago or CTU over allegedly unpaid debts.

In 2017, Propper International, which is based in Missouri and sells "tactical gear and apparel," said that CTU owed more than $4,000. A judge found Intriago in contempt of court for failing to appear in court during the lawsuit. Ultimately, CTU did pay Propper to resolve the lawsuit, the records indicate.

In 2018, a weapons distributor called RSR Group accused CTU of trying to pay it with a bad check. In its lawsuit, RSR Group said CTU owed it more than $15,000. A court ordered CTU to pay that debt, plus interest, as well as statutory damages of more than $45,000.

RSR Group and Propper International did not respond to NPR's request for comment.

None of the lawsuits appear to relate to private security forces of the kind suspected in the Haitian president's assassination. But other sources provide some clues about Intriago's work.

Leaked emails apparently between Intriago and the Italian company Hacking Team, which sold surveillance software, appear in a cache published by WikiLeaks in 2015. Intriago wrote that he had "a potential customer in Mexico that I'm working with," and wanted more information about how their surveillance software could "be inserted on computer via remote." In response, a company representative wrote, "[W]e are allowed to sell only to governamental [sic] agencies." There are no other emails to or from Intriago in the WikiLeaks archive.

Ralph N. Garcia, a private investigator based in Florida, told NPR by phone that he had previously discussed going into business with Intriago, but that business was around the sales of security gear.

"He imports or exports security equipment," Garcia said, "bulletproof vests and whatnot to South and Central America."

Garcia is listed as one of CTU's "partners" on the company's website, but he said he had never done any business with CTU. He said he did not know of CTU or Intriago providing any private security services. The news of CTU's possible involvement with the Haitian president's killing shocked him and left him somewhat "freaked out."

"I don't know what to think about that," Garcia said. "I don't know anything about this Haiti stuff at all."

Tom O'Dea said his company Varanus Tactical had previously sold about 30 vests of body armor to CTU Security as part of a contract with police in Costa Rica.

"He did some kind of training or something, but I didn't really deal with that side of the business," O'Dea said.

Likewise, he said he was surprised that CTU or Intriago could possibly have any involvement with the Haitian president's assassination.

A company called iProtectUSA did partner with CTU on survival and "tactical handgun self-defense" training, according to its Instagram posts. But a representative of iProtectUSA, which is based in Miami, said it had not worked with Intriago in years, had no information about any possible connections Intriago had with Haiti, and otherwise declined to comment.

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