A mysterious self-described doctor who has lived on and off in Florida for decades has been accused of leading the plot to assassinate Haiti president Jovenel Moïse in order to take the presidency for himself.
Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, is the latest suspect linked to the assassination of Moïse, who was brutally murdered at his home last week. Dozens of people have been implicated and arrested in the days following the assassination, but, on Sunday, Haitian authorities publicly named Sanon as the leadership figure in an alleged attempted coup.
However, there are significant gaps in the official version of events.
“[Sanon] arrived by private plane in June with political objectives and contacted a private security firm to recruit the people who committed this act,” Haiti’s national police chief, Léon Charles, said Sunday.
The police chief named a shadowy private Venezuelan security company based in Florida called CTU as the firm Sanon worked with, but Charles didn’t offer any explanation for how an obscure self-described doctor—who filed for bankruptcy in Tampa in 2013—could have feasibly led a complex and expensive plot to take over the Haitian government.
There are some signs that Sanon may have set his sights on power. The Washington Post resurfaced a YouTube video from 2011 titled “Dr. Christian Sanon—Leadership for Haiti,” which puts forward the doctor as a potential new leader. There was also a website called “Haiti Lives Matter” which reportedly said Sanon should lead a new coalition.
In the old YouTube video, the speaker—who appears to be Sanon himself—condemns Haiti’s leaders as corrupt, complaining: “They don’t care about the country, they don’t care about the people... We can’t take it anymore. We need new leadership that will change the way of life.”
But the Miami Herald obtained public records which cast doubt on whether Sanon had the means to organize a coup. He has several inactive businesses in Florida, and, although he describes himself as a doctor, he has no medical license in the state. Bankruptcy records show he was making a salary of $60,000 in 2013 and had $400,000 in debt.
Some suspects arrested in the assassination have claimed they were paid as much as $3,000 a month to take part in the plot, and Haiti authorities haven’t explained how Sanon could afford to bankroll a coup.
Authorities claimed they discovered damning evidence during a raid at Sanon’s home, including a Drug Enforcement Administration cap. The assassins who killed Moïse falsely identified themselves as DEA agents before the shooting. Police also said they found boxes of bullets, shooting targets, and several Dominican Republican license plates.
“The initial mission that was given to these assailants was to protect the individual named Emmanuel Sanon, but afterwards the mission changed,” said the national police chief Léon Charles, adding that the initial plan appeared to be to arrest the president—not to assassinate him.
According to the Associated Press, Charles claimed that immediately after Moïse was killed, one of the arrested suspects phoned Sanon, who then contacted the supposed masterminds of the plot. Charles didn’t offer any information on who Sanon was allegedly working with.
The announcement of Sanon’s arrest came shortly after FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials landed in Haiti to offer assistance in the aftermath of the assassination.