Joseph Félix Badio, a former military commander who had worked with narcotics and corruption investigations, was recognized as a wanted man by a member of the Haitian police force.
The law wanted Badio for questioning in connection with the July 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise. He was stopped in his car while leaving a grocery store in the Haitian capital.
Badio’s arrest aroused glee among Haitians, who have grown skeptical in a society where corruption and impunity are often the norm. According to Pierre Espérance, director of a prominent Haitian human rights organization, the arrest of Badio on what appears to be by chance raises questions about the vigor with which he was being hunted.
The assassination is being investigated separately in both Haiti and South Florida. There are dozens of individuals in jail in Haiti, but nobody has been formally charged. In February, a federal grand jury in Miami indicted 11 people for their roles in the scheme. Germán Rivera, a Colombian, was one of the three who pleaded guilty; he was sentenced to life in prison last month.
Badio may suffer legal consequences in the United States, according to attorneys representing defendants accused of crimes in South Florida. Experts in the legal field say he may have the key to solving a case that has been cloaked in mystery.
Badio attended Medgar Evers College and owned a four-bedroom home in Rockland County, New York, giving him access to influential political and security circles.
After taking $30,000 from an inmate who is serving time for the murder of a local radio station owner, Badio was terminated from his position in the Justice Ministry’s anti-corruption branch.
Former Colombian troops who were rounded up were shocked to learn that he had disappeared soon after the assassination.
In his audio message, he alleged that other members of Haiti’s government were complicit in the conspiracy as well.