Haitian gang leader charged with conspiracy to hold hostage for kidnapping of 16 US missionaries in Fall 2021 – The Published Reporter®

Joly Germine, 29, aka Yonyon, who is described as a leader of the 400 Mawozo gang was extradited to the United States. Photo: Police Nationale d’Haiti

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, a Haitian citizen was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia with hostage-conspiracy charges for his role in the armed kidnapping of 16 U.S. citizens in Haiti in the fall of 2021. The victims were Christian missionaries serving in Haiti and most of them were held for 61 days before escaping.

The indictment accuses Joly Germine, 29, aka “Yonyon,” who is described as a leader of the 400 Mawozo gang. He is the first defendant to be charged in connection with the kidnapping of the missionaries. Germine was previously charged with firearms trafficking in a separate case in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The Haitian government transferred Germine from a Haitian prison to U.S. custody on May 3, 2022 based on an arrest warrant in that case, and Germine has been detained in the District of Columbia ever since.

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“This case shows that the Department of Justice will be relentless in our efforts to track down anyone who kidnaps a US citizen abroad,” US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “We will use the full reach of our law enforcement agencies to hold everyone accountable for undermining the security of Americans everywhere.”

“Today’s indictment shows that the United States will not tolerate crime against our citizens, here or abroad,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI will continue to work aggressively with our international partners to keep our citizens safe and bring perpetrators to justice.”

“These charges are a step toward justice for the victims who volunteered their services in Haiti when they were kidnapped and held for weeks,” said Matthew M. Graves, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we are committed to holding accountable those who perpetrate violence against Americans abroad to achieve their own goals.”

The charges relate to the October 16, 2021 kidnapping of 17 Christian missionaries near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Sixteen of the kidnap victims were US citizens, including five children, one as young as eight months old.

According to the indictment, Germine, who was in a Haitian prison at the time of the kidnapping, directed and claimed control of the kidnapping operations of 400 Mawozo gang members, including ransom negotiations for the release of the hostages. One of the gang’s goals in holding the hostages was to prevent Germine’s release from prison by the Haitian government. Germine is said to have been in regular contact with other 400 Mawozo leaders about the kidnapping, imprisonment and ransom of the hostages. Two of the hostages were released on or about November 20, 2021, and three more were released on or about December 5, 2021. The remaining hostages escaped from captivity on or about December 16, 2021.

Germine will appear in the US District Court for the District of Columbia for the first time tomorrow.

The charges in the indictment are only accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory guidelines for convictions and other legal factors.

The case is under investigation by the FBI’s Miami Field Office. The Haitian National Police provided valuable assistance. The case is being pursued by US Assistant Attorney Karen P. Seifert, with assistance from paralegal specialist Jorge Casillas and US Assistant Special Attorney Hunter Deeley, of the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

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