Haitian police arrested eight men this week in Port-Au-Prince, claiming they carried weaponry and said they were on a mysterious “government mission.” Police charged them illegal possession of firearms after they saw their cars had no license plates. Five of them are Americans, and three of the Americans are military veterans. This comes as Haiti has been rocked by protests against Haitian President Jovenel Moïse over corruption allegations since Feb. 7th.

The presence of American military veterans on a “government mission” is worrying given the history of the U.S. attempts to influence and control the region. The names of the American detainees are Christopher Michael Osman, Kent Leland Kroeker and Christopher Mark McKinley.

On Thursday, the U.S. released an advisory, telling U.S. citizens to leave Haiti, citing “widespread, violent, and unpredictable demonstrations in Port-Au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti.”

The Miami Herald reports that the U.S. embassy also stated, “We understand that the Haitian National Police detained a group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens. When U.S. citizens are arrested overseas we seek Consular Access as soon as possible and provide appropriate Consular assistance as provided by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to comment further.”

When the U.S. consul general visited the Port-Au-Prince police station, he denied that the government was carrying out covert operations.

Joel Casseus, the head of the Port-Au-Prince police, told the Miami Herald, “They said they were on a government mission… We used professional force to show them that we are serious. We then took them to the police station.”