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long arm of justice

Suspect in assassination of Haitian president will face charges in Miami

A former member of the Colombian military suspected of playing a role in the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was arrested in Florida Tuesday morning, The Miami Herald reports.

Mario Antonio Palacios, also known by the nickname "Floro," was taken into custody by Homeland Security agents after his arrival from Panama. He is set to appear in court Tuesday afternoon and will reportedly face charges of conspiracy to provide material support resulting in the death of a foreign leader and conspiracy to kidnap and kill a foreign leader.

Palacios' journey to the U.S. has been a convoluted one, many details of which have yet to come to light. He was detained in Jamaica in October and was in the process of being deported to Colombia when he was arrested in Panama Monday. Palacios was sent to Florida Monday night following a meeting with FBI agents, Reuters reported.

Moïse was killed July 7 when a squad of former Colombian soldiers stormed the president's private residence. They allegedly tortured Moïse, shot him to death, and took pictures of his corpse. They also allegedly shot and wounded his wife, Martine.

A New York Times report suggested that Moïse was killed by drug traffickers after he spent months assembling an exhaustive list of people, including powerful businesspeople and politicians, with ties to the Haitian narcotics trade. According to Martine Moïse, who lay on the floor pretending to be dead, the assassins rummaged through files in the president's bedroom and took something with them when they fled.

Palacios is the first person to face charges for the killing of Moïse. Haitian authorities have arrested 44 people, but none of them has yet been charged.  

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is also the acting president, was the target of a separate assassination attempt Saturday, Bloomberg reported. The prime minister, who emerged unscathed after gunfire struck his armored car, blamed the attack on "bandits."