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Colombian mercenary suspect in Haiti's presidential assassination is in custody in Miami

An Interpol poster wiht the image of Mario Antonio Palacios
Colombian mercenary Mario Antonio Palacios on a Haitian wanted poster.

Mario Antonio Palacios was headed back to Colombia when, on a stopover in Panama, authorities put him on a plane to Miami — where U.S. authorities charged him.

A Colombian mercenary allegedly involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moīse was taken into U.S. custody in Miami on Tuesday and was expected to have his first court appearance here shortly after.

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Mario Antonio Palacios is one of scores of people Haitian authorities have linked to President Moīse’s murder at his Port-au-Prince home on July 7.

Until now, none had been charged in the brutal killing. But U.S. authorities are charging Palacios with taking part in a conspiracy that resulted in the killing of a foreign leader — a plot they say was partially hatchedon U.S soil, specifically South Florida.

The former Colombian military member was part of a mercenary group of Colombians and Haitian-Americans, many of whom have confessed they were hired to kidnap Moīse. In media interviews, Palacios has admitted being at Moīse’s home the night of the assassination, but denied taking part in the president’s murder.

Earlier it appeared Palacios would be a free man. He escaped arrest in Haiti after the assassination; he'd been held in Jamaica on an immigration violation, but on Tuesday he was being deported by a Jamaican court back to Colombia. During a stopover in Panama, authorities there put him on a flight to Miami, where Homeland Security and FBI officials awaited him.

U.S. and Haitian authorities hope Palacios can help them solve who ordered Moīse’s assassination.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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