Haitian gang leader charged with kidnapping US missionaries

WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors in the US have charged the leader of a notoriously violent Haitian gang in connection with the kidnapping of 16 Americans last year, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Germine Joly, 29, also known as “Yonyon,” is accused of leading the 400 Mawozo Gang and is the first person charged by Justice Department prosecutors with involvement in the kidnapping of the Christian missionaries . He was extradited to the US last week and faces a separate arms trafficking charge, prosecutors said.

The indictment states that Joly was in a Haitian prison during the kidnapping but was still able to direct his group’s operations, including ransom negotiations for the prisoners’ release. One of the stated goals of the hostage situation was to get the Haitian government to release Joly from prison, prosecutors said.

A total of 17 people from the missionary group – 12 adults and five minors – were abducted on October 16 shortly after visiting an orphanage in Ganthier, in the Croix-des-Bouquets area, the group said. The group included 16 Americans and one Canadian.


Twelve of the captured missionaries escaped during a daring night caper, evading their captors and walking for miles over difficult, moonlit terrain with an infant and other children in tow. According to officials at Christian Aid Ministries, the Ohio-based agency the missionaries work for, the group navigated by the stars to get to safety after a two-month kidnapping rehearsal.

Her kidnappers from the 400 Mawozo gang initially demanded millions of dollars in ransom. Five other prisoners had previously achieved freedom. It is not yet clear whether the ransom was paid. The 12 escaped hostages were flown to Florida on a US Coast Guard flight and later reunited with the five previously released hostages.

Joly is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on Wednesday. A lawyer who has represented Joly in the arms trafficking case declined to comment Wednesday night.

“This case shows that the Justice Department will work tirelessly to track down anyone who abducts a US citizen abroad,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “We will use the full reach of our law enforcement agencies to hold accountable anyone responsible for undermining the security of Americans anywhere in the world.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Haitian gang leader charged with kidnapping US missionaries

Justin Scacco

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