US charges 7 Haitian gang leaders for kidnapping US citizens

By Rumi Samuel Published on November 08, 2022
US charges 7 Haitian gang leaders for kidnapping US citizens

The Justice Department announced charges Monday against seven alleged Haitian gang leaders for the 2021 abductions of US citizens.

The indictments, unsealed in federal court in Washington, D.C., charge three Haitian nationals -- Joseph Wilson, Jermaine Stephenson and Vitel’homme Innocent -- with conspiracy to commit hostage-taking and hostage-taking for their alleged roles in the kidnapping of 16 US missionaries in October 2021.

Wilson and Stephenson are leaders of the notorious 400 Mawozo gang, while Innocent is the leader of the Kraze Barye gang, the department said in a statement.

Innocent is alleged to have worked with the 400 Mawozo gangs to abduct and hold the hostages. The 400 Mawozo gangs claimed responsibility for the abductions.

“When a U.S. citizen is kidnapped abroad, the Justice Department will bring to bear the full reach of our law enforcement authorities to ensure their safe return home and to hold accountable those responsible,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“As these charges demonstrate, we are committed to working alongside our interagency and international partners to disrupt these kidnapping-for-ransom schemes that endanger the lives of American citizens and that fuel the violent gangs harming the Haitian people," he added.

The State Department has announced a $3 million reward for information that leads to the capture of Wilson, Stephenson and Innocent.

In addition to the three men, the Justice Department also charged four other alleged gang leaders for kidnapping, including the leaders of the Grand Ravine, Village de Dieu and Kokorat san Ras gangs.

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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