BY NAN News Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Nov. 7, 2022: The US today announced it would offer up to $1 million each for information leading to the arrests and/or convictions of three accused Haitian gang leaders.
They are: Lanmò Sanjou, a/k/a Joseph Wilson, Jermaine Stephenson, a/k/a Gaspiyay, and Vitel‘Homme Innocent. The US says the three are wanted for conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate in transnational organized crime.
The rewards are offered under the U.S. Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, which, together with the Narcotics Rewards Program, has helped bring more than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers to justice.
“We are doing so in conjunction with the announcement of charges against the three individuals by the U.S. Department of Justice,” US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, said today.
Wilson, known as Lanmo Sanjou, and Jermaine Stephenson, aka Gaspiyay, of the 400 Mawozo gang that took responsibility for the October 2021 kidnapping, were charged with hostage taking and conspiracy to commit hostage taking.
Innocent, leader of a Kraze Barye gang, worked with 400 Mawozo on the kidnapping, the DOJ said.
On October 16, 2021, the 400 Mawozo gang engaged in a conspiracy to kidnap 16 U.S. Christian missionaries and one Canadian missionary and hold them for ransom. The missionaries were abducted after visiting an orphanage in the town of Ganthier, east of Port-au-Prince. The kidnapping victims of the missionary group included twelve adults and five children.
Currently, reports indicate the gang and its allies are trying to extend their control to Tabarre, near the U.S. Embassy, just east of metropolitan Port-au-Prince.
The U.S. Secretary of State said the move is part of the administration’s “efforts to continue imposing consequences and holding accountable those fomenting violence in Haiti.”
“The United States supports the efforts of our Haitian law enforcement partners seeking to enforce rule of law in Haiti and combat transnational organized crime which continues to be a driving factor in worsening the humanitarian and security situation,” Blinken added. “These actions are part of the United States’ commitment to support the people of Haiti as they bear the brunt of the crisis.”
The U.S. Department of State has paid more than $155 million in rewards under these programs for information leading to apprehensions and convictions.