i ‘We’re not mercenaries. We’re not murderers,’ says ex-Navy SEAL arrested in Haiti

Dubois said the latest tale — that the men were part of a scheme to transfer $80 million in funds that Haiti is holding in escrow for Venezuela’s PetroCaribe oil program— is also untrue.

“It is something that is completely impossible,” he said, noting that any movement of the money requires both the signature of the Haitian State and the Venezuelan ambassador.

Dubois said the first thing he did the Monday following the men’s arrest was review the bank’s cameras. He saw the men were outside, but “there was no aggression,” and they spent somewhere between 16 minutes and 23 minutes outside the bank.

Osman admits that since returning home to San Diego he has questioned the information he was given about his mission. He can’t help but think of the ease with which Leconte, who eventually fled the country along with another man involved in the mystery, Fritz Jean-Louis, got out of his vehicle and walked up to police as the group was being detained. Jean-Louis owned the vehicles the men were riding in, Osman said.

The entire mission, he said, was supposed to be 10 days long. And he would be paid $1,000 a day with half paid up front.

“I was under the impression that it was always doing evacuations for high-end clients, rich Haitians that wanted to leave the island on private jets, but because of all of the riots … they wanted professional security to take them,” he said. “Go to the houses with the families, watch them pack, take them down to the airport, watch them fly off on private jets and be gone.”

Osman said he was recruited for the job by Lance and Talon Burton, who run Hawkstorm Global, and told about the job in Haiti.

The last to arrive in Haiti, Osman flew from San Diego to JFK into Port-au-Prince on Feb. 16. He was aboard a commercial flight, as was Talon Burton. The rest of the team, Osman said, had come in by private plane. He was met at the airport by a Haitian driver, Burton and team member Chris McKinley, another ex-Navy SEAL.

The next day everyone went to Leconte’s home. At 4:30 p.m. another team member was flying in, and they would need to head to the airport.

“It’s a guy I don’t know, I never met,” Osman said.

Osman said the arsenal of weapons that Haitian police seized and put on display was already in the vehicles when they got in to leave for the airport to pick up the new team member.

“I was told the guns were the property of the Haitian government,” he said. “I was told that from the moment I got there and saw a gun. I didn’t see a gun until we went to Josh’s house.”

Osman said he was in the second vehicle bound for the airport, but got lost after his GPS didn’t properly work. That’s when they decided to join the first vehicle and head for the bank.

About two blocks from the bank, the lead vehicle stopped and Porte jumped out, Osman said, “came up to our vehicle and said, ‘Hey, I want to stop by the bank for about five minutes and talk to my people who I know there and let them know we are coming by tomorrow.’ ”

Someone, however, tipped off police, who stopped the two vehicles about a block away from the bank.

“They stopped us out of curiosity; they didn’t stop us because we were doing anything wrong,” Osman said. “No one got out of the vehicle with guns. … It was as innocent and as boring as if you ran a red light and a police officer pulled you over.”

HaitiProtests (3).JPG
A masked protester clutching a stone runs amid tear gas launched by Haiti National Police during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise near the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.
Dieu Nalio Chery AP

Osman said during the stop both their interpreter and Leconte tried to explain to police who they were.

“Josh is talking to them, telling that he has a contract with the government and the bank and they are providing security,” Osman said. “It was ‘Hey no problem, let me just make a phone call and let you guys go.’ ”

Joel Casseus, the head of the Port-au-Prince police station, told the Herald in an interview after the arrest that backup officers were called after the men proved to be uncooperative. The men would only tell police that they were in Haiti “on a government mission,” he said.

The men didn’t specify which government had hired them. But at one point, Casseus said, they told officers that “their boss would call our boss,” he said. Soon a third vehicle arrived with another individual, this one speaking French. He too was arrested.

The man, Osman said, was Kent Kroeker, another team member who had pulled up with Leconte and Phillips inside. As he walked toward the police, Leconte leaned in to their waiting SUV and said they would be getting out in five minutes.

“Kent also speaks the local language there. He was talking and letting them know it was just a misunderstanding, and these guys were just doing their job, no big deal,” Osman said.

Osman said police let Leconte, Phillips and Kroeker go, but Kroeker refused and insisted that “no way am I leaving my guys so I am staying.”

“Mike Phillips, our team leader who has never been mentioned,” Osman said, “looked me dead in my face … doesn’t say a word to me, and him and Josh jump into their vehicle and leave us. They drive right through all of the vehicles and all of the people and they take off and they left us there.”

Osman said Philips headed back to the hotel and eventually left Haiti.

Osman is still upset by the abandonment by not just Phillips but Leconte.

“While we were being detained and arrested,” Osman said, “those two left the country and went to another country and flew back to America with us there


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