An alleged Haitian gang leader was charged in federal court on Tuesday with orchestrating the kidnapping of 16 Christian missionaries in Haiti last year.
Joly Germine, 29, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., and is accused of conspiracy to commit hostage-taking for his role in the armed kidnapping of the 16 U.S. citizens, including five children, in the fall of 2021. The hostages allegedly taken by Germine's 400 Mawozo gang were missionaries for the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. One of the hostages was a Canadian citizen.
HAITI GANG HOLDING DOMINICAN DIPLOMAT HOSTAGE
The charging documents said Germine, also known as "Yonyon," was in Haitian prison at the time of the kidnappings in October 2021 but still “directed and asserted control” of the operation, including negotiating for ransom payments of $1 million per hostage and attempting to force his release from prison as one of the goals of the operation.
“This case shows that the Justice Department will be relentless in our efforts to track down anyone who kidnaps a U.S. citizen abroad,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press release. “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.”
Most of the kidnapped missionaries were held captive for 61 days before escaping the week before Christmas 2021. Five hostages were released prior to the harrowing escape, in which 12 of the missionaries walked for 10 miles before finding help.
Germine is the first person charged in connection with the kidnapping. The Haitian government transferred the alleged gang leader from a Haitian jail into U.S. custody on May 3, 2022.
Germine is being detained in Washington, D.C., and his first court appearance will be on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Kidnappings are a frequent occurrence in Haiti.
At least eight Turkish missionaries were kidnapped in Haiti over the weekend after traveling by bus from the Dominican Republic.
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A Haitian gang is also reportedly holding hostage a diplomat from the Dominican Republic, Carlos Guillen Tatis, the trade attache at the Dominican Embassy in Port-au-Prince who was kidnapped earlier this month.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Christian Aid Ministries for comment.