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Haiti’s Gangs Grow Stronger as Kenyan-Led Force Prepares to Deploy

WorldHaiti’s Gangs Grow Stronger as Kenyan-Led Force Prepares to Deploy

They have a stranglehold on the country’s infrastructure, from police stations to seaports. They have chased hundreds of thousands of people from the capital. And they are suspected of having ties to the 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president.

Western diplomats and officials say the influence and capability of many Haitian gangs are evolving, making them ever more threatening to the Kenyan-led multinational police force soon deploying to Haiti as well as the fragile transitional council trying to set a path for elections.

With their arrival just days away, the 2,500 police officers will confront a better equipped, funded, trained and unified gang force than any mission previously deployed to the Caribbean nation, security experts say.

Once largely reliant on Haiti’s political and business elite for money, some gangs have found independent financial lifelines since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 and the collapse of the state that ensued.

“The gangs had been making their money from kidnappings and extortion and from payouts from politicians during elections and the business elites in between,” said William O’Neill, the United Nations-appointed human rights expert for Haiti.

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