A major suspect in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti was charged with taking part in the murder plot in a federal court in Florida on Thursday, in a sign of an accelerating American investigation into the crime that plunged the Caribbean nation into chaos.
The suspect, Rodolphe Jaar, a Haitian businessman and former drug trafficker, admitted to providing weapons and logistical support for the plot, according to court documents unsealed during his hearing on Thursday.
The United States is increasingly assuming a leading role in investigating the president’s death, as questions mount over the Haitian authorities’ ability and willingness to get to the bottom of the crime.
Mr. Jaar, 49, was taken into U.S. custody on Wednesday following six months on the run. He agreed to come to the United States voluntarily after being detained in the Dominican Republic earlier this month, according to the prosecutors.
He is the second suspect to be charged by U.S. prosecutors in connection with the assassination of Mr. Moïse, who was gunned down in his bedroom on July 7. Mario Palacios, a retired Colombian commando accused of taking part in the assault on the presidential residence, was charged with the same crime in the same U.S. District Court in Miami earlier this month.
After promising to bring the killers to justice, Mr. Moïse’s successor as head of the government, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has made little progress in advancing the investigation. None of the more than 40 suspects detained in Haiti have been formally charged, and local court officials and police officers involved in the investigation have denounced threats and widespread irregularities that have paralyzed the investigation.
In contrast, U.S. law enforcement agencies are beginning to unseal criminal complaints months after their officers traveled to Haiti to assist in the initial evidence gathering following Mr. Moïse’s death. The Haitian police have accused at least six American citizens and residents of participating in the plot, which appears to have been partially conceived and financed in South Florida.
None of the U.S. citizens and residents have been charged yet.
Mr. Palacios, the Colombian ex-soldier, began cooperating with U.S. officials while he was held in detention in Jamaica, where he traveled after Mr. Moïse’s death, according to the unsealed U.S. court documents. The charges in Miami were swiftly followed by Mr. Jaar’s arrest in the Dominican Republic and the arrest of another suspect, former Senator John Joël Joseph, in Jamaica.
Mr. Jaar’s testimony could help prosecutors move closer to the masterminds of the crime. In an interview with The New York Times before his arrest, Mr. Jaar implicated two senior Haitian officials currently in office in the plot to depose Mrweir. Moïse.
According to Mr. Jaar, Mr. Henry, the prime minister, was in close contact before and after the crime with Joseph Félix Badio, a former justice ministry official accused by the Haitian police of organizing the attack on the presidential residence. Mr. Jaar also claimed that Mr. Badio had contacted the current head of the police, Frantz Elbé, to ask for his help procuring weapons for the plot.
Mr. Henry, through a spokesperson, denied any connection to Mr. Badio. Mr. Elbé didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Frances Robles contributed reporting in Miami.