Per the Associated Press, Haitian gang leader Germine ‘Yonyon’ Joly has been charged with the kidnapping of 17 Christian missionaries last year. The 29-year-old leader of the 400 Mawozo gang is the first person charged in connection with the kidnapping of 16 U.S missionaries and one Canadian missionary in October 2021.
Joly was extradited to the U.S last week, and the indictment noted that he was in a Haitian prison at the time of the kidnapping. Prosecutors allege that Joly directed his gang to carry out the kidnapping while he was still behind bars. His victims included 12 adults and five minors.
“This case shows that the Justice Department will be relentless in our efforts to track down anyone who kidnaps a U.S citizen abroad,” said U.S Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement shared by the Department of Justice. “We will utilize the full reach of our law enforcement authorities to hold accountable anyone responsible for undermining the safety of Americans anywhere in the world.”
In an attempt to escape, twelve of the captives staged an overnight escaped and managed to “eluder their kidnappers,” per the AP. They eventually reunited with five hostages who had previously escaped.
“This indictment is a step towards achieving justice for the victims who were volunteering their services in Haiti when they were kidnapped and held for weeks on end,” said U.S Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “Along with our law enforcement partners, we are committed to holding accountable those who carry out acts of violence against Americans abroad to further their own aims.”