| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

U.S. charges Haitian gang leaders for 2021 missionary kidnapping

The Department of Justice announced on Monday that the United States had unveiled charges against a number of Haitian gang leaders, including three persons involved in the abduction of American missionaries last year.

The 400 Mawozo gang, which claimed responsibility for the kidnapping in October 2021, was made up of Joseph Wilson, also known as Lanmo Sanjou, and Jermaine Stephenson, also known as Gaspiyay. Both men were accused of taking hostages and of conspiring to take hostages.

Vitel’homme Innocent, leader of a Kraze Barye gang, worked with 400 Mawozo on the kidnapping, the DOJ said. The U.S. State Department said it was offering a reward of $3 million for information leading to the capture of the three men.

The sixteen Americans and one Canadian – including five children – were taken hostage while on a trip to Haiti organized by the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.

The group has said ransom money was paid for the release of the captives, but a dozen had escaped on their own.

The DOJ also unsealed charges against four other Haitian gang members for separate kidnappings involving U.S. citizens, who it did not identify.

Earlier this year, Haiti’s police said that 400 Mawozo leader Germine Joly, aka ‘Yonyon,’ was extradited to the United States following a request by the U.S. authorities.

Since President Jovenel Moise’s murder in 2021, Haiti’s gangs have become more powerful, and the government no longer controls a sizable chunk of the capital or most of the countryside.

While it was unclear when fuel distribution will restart, a coalition of gangs known as G9 announced on Sunday that it was lifting a blockage of a vital terminal that caused to severe fuel shortages and forced several companies to close their doors.

  • Reuters