The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday that a Colombian national was arrested based on a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida.
The DOJ said Mario Antonio Palacios, 43, is “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.”
As alleged in the complaint, which was unsealed on Tuesday, these charges relate to the Jul. 7, 2021, assassination of the former President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
As alleged, the defendant and others, including a group of about 20 other Colombian citizens and a group of Haiti-based dual Haitian-American citizens, participated in a plot to kidnap or kill the Haitian President, with one conspirator (“Co-conspirator #1”) traveling to the United States on Jun. 28, 2021, to, among other things, provide other individuals with a written request for assistance to further the plot relating to the Haitian President.
As alleged in the complaint, while the plot initially focused on conducting a kidnapping of the president as part of a purported arrest operation, it ultimately resulted in a plot to kill the Haitian President.
The complaint affidavit alleges that, on Jul. 7, 2021, Palacios and others entered the president’s residence in Haiti with the intent and purpose of killing President Moise, and in fact the president was killed.
Co-conspirator #1, a dual Haitian-American citizen, was subsequently arrested by Haitian authorities and remains in custody in Haiti, the DOJ said.
It said Palacios eluded arrest and traveled to Jamaica.
“Palacios was recently deported from Jamaica and, during a layover in Panama, agreed to travel to the United States,” the DOJ said.
If convicted of the charges in the complaint, Palacios faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the DOJ said.
It said a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.