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Crime and Justice

One of the main suspects in Haitian president's assassination captured in Dominican Republic

Rodolphe Jaar, a convicted drug trafficker and former DEA informant linked to the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, was arrested Friday by Dominican authorities, according to several diplomatic and security sources.
Publicado 8 Ene 2022 – 07:17 PM EST | Actualizado 15 Ene 2022 – 12:03 PM EST
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The arrest (left) of Rodolph Jaar in 2013 in Haiti and his latest arrest warrant (right) in connection to the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Crédito: Haitian National Police (DNCD & DCPJ)

Rodolphe Jaar is one of the top suspects in the assassination last year of Haiti's president Jovenel Moise, according to a detailed Haitian National Police report obtained by Univision, which described him as providing housing to the Colombian hit team, as well as weapons.

Jaar was arrested Friday after eluding capture for six months.

Dominican authorities have not publicly confirmed the arrest, but Haitian officials told The Miami Herald that Jaar was arrested at the request of U.S. authorities based on evidence provided to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security by Mario Palacios, a retired Colombian soldier who was charged last week in a Miami federal court for his alleged role in the conspiracy to assassinate Moise.

Palacios, who was also on the run, was arrested in Jamaica in October. Instead of being sent to Haiti, he was deported to Colombia last week. But U.S. agents intercepted him in Panama and he voluntarily agreed to fly to Miami where he was arrested and is now believed to be cooperating in the investigation.

Jaar is wanted in Haiti, but could end up being deported to the United States as the Dominican Republic does not have an extradition agreement with its neighbour.

Palacios, 43, and the other Colombian commandos had been recruited to provide security in Haiti by a security firm near Miami, CTU Federal Academy.

On the night of the assassination, members of the Colombian security team left Jaar's house armed with a plan to kill Moise, according to witness statements in the Haitian police report.

Jaar was one of several fugitives in the alleged assassination plot, including former Haitian senator Jean Joël Joseph and Joseph Felix Badio, a former Haitian Ministry of Justice official in an anti-corruption unit.

Jaar, who owned an import-export business in Haiti, was one of Haiti's most prolific drug traffickers, also known as 'Whiskey', helping to smuggle at least seven tons of Colombian cocaine into the country between 1998 and 2012, according to court documents.

After being arrested in May 2000 for his alleged involvement in laundering drug money, he worked as an undercover informant for the DEA for the next 12 years.

He was convicted of drug trafficking in 2013, pleading guilty to stealing 50 kilos of the cocaine he allegedly helped agents seize, worth around $1 million. After his release from prison in 2016, Jaar was deported to Haiti.

Jaar, 49, has been described as the 'black sheep' of a reputed family at the top of the country's business elite. Palestinian emigrants from Bethlehem, the Jaar family owns the Coca-Cola bottling licence in Haiti, as well as a brewery in Canada and investments in electricity.

A month before the assassination, Jaar allegedly attended a bizarre meeting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, at which a plan was discussed, with the alleged backing of the US government, to arrest 34 Haitian businessmen and government officials involved in drug trafficking and money laundering, using FBI and DEA agents.

The State Department denies that there was any such plan. "There is absolutely no truth to the allegations that the State Department, the FBI, the DEA or any other U.S. Government entity was involved in this plot," a State Department spokesman told Univision Noticias late on Friday.