News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Tues. Jan. 4, 2021: The US today charged a retired Colombian commando with taking part in the July 7, 2021, assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti. He is the first suspect to face U.S. prosecution in the crime. Here’s what you should know about him.
1: He is Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, an ex-Colombia army officer, who was detained during a layover at an airport in Panama on Monday, Jan. 3rd and flown from there to Miami, after previously agreeing to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement, according to federal prosecutors.
2: He flew out of Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport in Jamaica en route to Colombia, after Haiti failed to get him extradited to Port-au-Prince and a judge in Jamaica ordered his deportation to Colombia. Palacios was arrested at a guest house in central Jamaica in October, 2021. It is believed that he entered the country through one of the island’s more than 140 informal ports of entry. Jamaica does not have an extradition treaty with Haiti.
3: He appeared before a federal judge on Tuesday, Jan. 4th, and was 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. He was held without bond.
4: Alfredo Izaguirre, a lawyer who was appointed to represent Palacios, said he would most likely plead not guilty at a pretrial hearing scheduled for later this month. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said he faced a possible life sentence.
5: Palacios, 43, was among two dozen retired members of Colombian military special forces who traveled to Haiti between May and June as private security contractors hired by a Miami-based firm called CTU Security, according to interviews with their families and Haitian police. Once in Haiti, their mission gradually changed from providing protection to local dignitaries to storming the presidential residence in an operation that resulted in Moïse’s death, according to Haitian police, the U.S. Department of Justice and Colombian intelligence.