The investigation into Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s assassination in Port-au-Prince on July 7, 2021, remains stalled in Haiti but is moving forward in the United States.
Haitian National Police (PNH) has made more than 40 arrests in connection with the killing. Among those arrested are 18 ex-Colombian soldiers. They remain jailed and have not appeared in court. Progress on the case has been slow in large part because Haiti’s justice system has been plagued by protests, robberies, gang violence and death threats.
But in the United States, the Department of Justice has indicted three key suspects who are being held in a federal prison in Miami, Florida, awaiting trial.
Ex-Colombian army officer Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, Haitian businessman Rodolphe Jaar and former Haitian lawmaker John Joel Joseph have been formally indicted and are charged with “conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.”
During an April 5 court appearance in Miami, Palacios pleaded not guilty to the charges. He does not yet have a trial date.
He was transferred to the U.S. from Panama, where authorities had arrested him at the airport en route to his native Colombia.
Palacios had somehow traveled from Haiti to Jamaica, where he was found without any identification. Jamaican officials put him on a plane bound for Colombia, with a stop in Panama, where authorities arrested him in October 2021 and charged him with illegal entry.
In an interview with U.S. law enforcement officials, Palacios said he was hired by a security firm to travel to Haiti and provide security and participate in an alleged operation to arrest Moise. Palacio said he was told on July 6, 2021, that the plan was to assassinate the president.
Jaar pleaded not guilty in federal court on July 6. His trial is scheduled to begin on July 18.
He was arrested in the Dominican Republic in January and was transferred to the U.S. on Jan. 19. He is a former U.S. Drug and Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant who is accused of being an accomplice in the assassination plot.
Before his arrest in January, Jaar told The New York Times that he helped plan and finance the Moise plot. He said he and Joseph Felix Badio, a suspect who is still at large, kept in contact after the assassination and slept in the same house days after the attack.
A former senator, Joseph was apprehended in Jamaica in January and charged with illegal entry. He traveled to the island with his wife and two children, who later asked for asylum. U.S. law enforcement officials requested his extradition, and he consented. He was transferred to Miami on May 6 and charged with the same felonies as Palacios and Jaar in connection with the assassination. He does not yet have a trial date.
The Associated Press reported that it had seen a police report that linked Joseph to the plot. The report said one of the suspects had identified Joseph as one of the leaders. The document listed a WhatsApp conversation between Joseph and James Solages, a Haitian American who was arrested in Haiti where details of the operation were discussed. Solages remains in jail in Haiti.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press.