Haitian gang leader accused of kidnapping missionaries in 2021 to be indicted in the US

Gang violence has been a widespread problem in Haiti for years, but it escalated following President Jovenel Moise's killing last year [File: Valerie Baeriswyl/AFP]

A Haitian gang boss was indicted in the United States on Tuesday for the kidnapping of 16 American missionaries last year. He is the first defendant to be prosecuted in a case that brought international attention to the dominance of gangs in the Caribbean nation.

In October, a grand jury indicted Joly "Yonyon" Germine, 29, as the leader of the 400 Mawozo gangs that kidnapped 17 individuals, including one Canadian and five infants, one of whom was just eight months old, on a missionaries' trip to Haiti.

"Germine, who was in a Haitian prison at the time of the kidnapping, directed and asserted control over the kidnapping operations of 400 Mawozo gang members, including ransom negotiations for the hostages' release," the Department of Justice stated in a statement released on Tuesday.

November saw the release of two hostages, followed by three more in December. Christian Aid Ministries, the organization that planned the missionaries' trip, later reported that the remaining hostages had escaped.

Last Monday, Germine was extradited to the United States and charged with conspiracy to violate export control rules by conspiring to transport weaponry to 400 Mawozo.

Since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July of last year, a growing percentage of Haiti's territory is no longer under the control of the government.

The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti said on Friday that at least 75 people had died due to turf fights between gangs that erupted two weeks ago near the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Publish : 2022-05-11 07:10:00

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