The abductors called banker Robert Moscoso asking for $2.5 million for the return of his children. Seven days later, with Brandt accompanying them, police rescued the Moscosco siblings, who were found blindfolded and handcuffed lying on a filthy mattress in the bathroom of a vacant, two-story mansion. Police said the kidnappers had been renting the home in Pernier, a Petionville suburb.
One of Brandt’s lawyers said his arrest was a mistake and his confession had to do with trying to settle a business score with Robert Moscoso, who also owns a car dealership .
Police and Haitian officials disagree.
“This is a national network that we have dismantled here, and we have a lot of people who we are searching for,” said Godson Orélus, the newly appointed head of the Haiti National Police. “We have cells in other provinces of the country that we are moving to dismantle.”
So far, 15 people have been arrested, including five police officers. One ex-cop remains at large. Earlier this month, a high ranking officer under investigation in connection to the case was gunned down after dropping his kids off to school. At the request of the Haitian government, the FBI has become involved in the kidnapping ring.
In a 30-page police report obtained by The Miami Herald, Brandt confessed to being the head of a gang, which also dealt in money laundering and illegal arms trafficking.
A search of his residence turned up arms, ammunitions and $15,000 in Money Gram receipts sent to someone in the United States.
“Asked about the reasons for the money transfer, the suspect …. declared that the group also was involved in illegal trafficking of arms and guns, and they financed the buying of these materials,” the report said.
The search turned up what police say was a fake National Palace identification card, listing Brandt as an “Adviser to the President.” It also turned up police clothing including ballistic helmets, black combat boots and Haitian National Police uniforms of pants, jerseys and T-shirts reading “DEA.”
The report revealed the involvement of several current and former Haitian police officers, one of whom had already been fired after being implicated in a kidnapping and other criminal activities.
According to the report, police found evidence that Brandt also was working on a list of future victims. At one point, there was a discussion about “gunning down” Delva, the secretary of public security, because he had announced the installation of security cameras around Port-au-Prince to thwart kidnappings.
Haitian officials have said Brandt’s arrest shows they are serious about ridding Haiti of kidnapping, which has destroyed families, deterred investors and made Haitians abroad scared to visit their own country.
But Pierre Esperance, head of the National Human Rights Defense Network, still worries about Haiti’s broken justice system.
He’s concerned about local political interference.
Haiti’s police “have done a very good job in this investigation,” Esperance said. “But officials have to let justice take its course, and not put pressure on the justice system.’’
Last week, his human rights group blasted Haitian government officials for not acting on the Moscoso siblings’ kidnapping until they were forced to by the U. S. Government.
Haitian officials dismiss his criticism, saying strong police work lead them to Brandt.
Authorities said they also re-interviewing other victims about their abductions in an effort to tie them to Brandt’s ring.
For many victims, the case has reopened old wounds that make it difficult for them to speak publicly about their ordeal.
“You always assumed that kidnapping didn’t have a face,’’ said a businessman who negotiated his kidnapped son’s release after eight day in the summer of 2008. “Now it has a face.’’