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Ex-Haitian Gang Leader Is Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison in Gunrunning Scheme

U.S.Ex-Haitian Gang Leader Is Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison in Gunrunning Scheme

The former leader of a Haitian street gang was sentenced on Monday to 35 years in prison for his role in directing a gunrunning scheme that smuggled guns to Haiti using ransom money that had been paid for the release of American hostages, prosecutors said.

Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sentenced the former gang leader, Joly Germine, 31, of Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, in a Washington courtroom.

Mr. Germine, who was known as Yonyon as the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang in Haiti, pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to a 48-count indictment that charged him with several crimes, including money laundering, smuggling and conspiracy to defraud the United States, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia said in a statement on Monday.

The 35-year sentence does not address other charges of conspiracy to commit hostage taking that Mr. Germine also faces after the 400 Mawozo gang claimed responsibility in 2021 for taking 16 American hostages and one Canadian. The hostage-taking case, which Judge Bates is also overseeing, is to go to trial next year, court records show.

After the 400 Mawozo gang took the 17 hostages in the fall of 2021, the gang sought a ransom of $1 million for each hostage, prosecutors said. (The hostages, who were part of a missionary group visiting an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, were all released or managed to escape by December.) The gang had also taken three Americans hostage in the summer of 2021, prosecutors said. It used some of the ransom money obtained in that scheme to buy at least 24 guns, including AR-15s and AK-47s, which were smuggled from the United States into Haiti, prosecutors said.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement on Monday that the money used in the gunrunning scheme had been “extorted from kidnapping American citizens.”

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