The United States Department of Justice has unsealing criminal charges against seven leaders of five Haitian gangs, which include gang leaders involved in the armed kidnappings of 16 U.S. citizens in the fall of 2021.
This was disclosed on Wednesday November 9, 2022, in a statement by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
“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 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.”
According to the statement, among the charges unsealed were federal indictments charging three Haitian nationals with conspiracy to commit hostage taking and hostage taking for their roles in the armed kidnapping of 16 U.S. citizens in Haiti in the fall of 2021.
The victims were Christian missionaries serving near Port-au-Price, Haiti, and most of them were held captive for 61 days before escaping, the statement read.
“The group included five children, one as young as eight months old at the time of the kidnapping.”
The U.S. Department of State is therefore announcing a reward of $3 million ($1 million per each of the three defendants charged in the kidnapping of the missionaries) for information leading to the capture of the three defendants, who are believed to be in Haiti.
The reward is being offered under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program.
Those three defendants, who are charged in separate indictments filed in the District of Columbia, include Lanmo Sanjou, aka Joseph Wilson, 29 and Jermaine Stephenson, aka Gaspiyay, in his late 20s, both current leaders of the 400 Mawozo gang, and Vitel’homme Innocent, 36, leader of the Kraze Barye gang.