U.S. authorities charged Germine Joly, a leader of a notorious gang behind many of the brazen mass kidnappings that have terrorized Haiti, including the abduction of 17 American and Canadian missionaries associated with an Ohio-based charity last year, the Washington Post reports. Joly, 29, the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, allegedly participated in a criminal conspiracy to smuggle firearms and munitions to the gang in violation of U.S. export laws. Joly and three others, including a U.S. citizen and two Haitian nationals based in Florida, were charged to a 28-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday.
The Haitian national police said Joly, also known as “Yonyon,” was flown to the U.S. on Tuesday after a request from U.S. authorities. Separately, a diplomat from the Dominican Republic was freed Wednesday after he disappeared last week in a 400 Mawozo stronghold in what officials called an “apparent” kidnapping while he was traveling to the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. Roberto Álvarez, the Dominican foreign minister, said Carlos Guillén Tatis was “safe and sound.” Gangs have long been a presence in Haiti, but they’ve assumed greater power in recent years, controlling large parts of the country and holding fuel supplies and aid for earthquake victims hostage with impunity. They filled a leadership vacuum after the assassination in July of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.