World January 17, 2024 | 10:38 am

High-Profile gang leader faces trial in US for arms trafficking linked to Haiti violence

Haiti.- Germine Joly, known as “Yonyon,” a notorious Haitian gang leader, is facing trial in Washington, DC, on charges related to arms trafficking and laundering kidnapping ransoms. Extradited to the United States in May 2022, Joly is accused of smuggling firearms into Haiti, violating U.S. export laws, and using ransom proceeds to fund gang violence. This includes AK47 and M1A rifles, and ammunition capable of piercing police vehicles, sourced from gun dealers in Florida.

The trial of Joly, who once directed his gang’s operations from behind bars in Haiti, is expected to shed light on the operation of Haiti’s armed groups and the link between U.S. arms trafficking and gang violence in Haiti. Approximately 200 gangs control about 80% of Haiti’s capital, with their influence now spreading to rural areas.

Joly’s case, involving the importation of weapons purchased with kidnapping ransoms, highlights the transnational implications of local gang violence. The trial is seen as the United States’ response to gang-related violence in Haiti, especially following the high-profile kidnapping of 16 Americans and one Canadian by Joly’s gang, 400 Mawozo, in 2021.

Several other leaders of Haiti-based gangs are wanted in the U.S. for kidnappings since 2021. Joly is charged alongside three Florida residents involved in the purchase and smuggling of firearms for 400 Mawozo. Among them, Eliande Tunis is expected to plead guilty to related charges, while the status of the others remains uncertain.

The trial will also explore the connection between Joly, his gang, and the kidnappings they conducted, including that of the U.S.-based missionaries. The judge has ruled that the evidence of these connections is intrinsic to the case, as the government needs to prove that the firearms were bought with kidnapping ransoms.

This high-profile case underscores the complex interplay between local gang activities in Haiti and international crime, particularly the role of arms trafficking from the United States in exacerbating violence and insecurity in Haiti.

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