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Haitian authorities offer reward for arrest of gang leader

Published:Monday | February 6, 2023 | 10:30 AM
The authorities said that Innocent is wanted on kidnappings for ransom, rape, assassinations and attempted assassinations as well as armed robbery charges. CMC photo

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, CMC – Haitian authorities are offering a 10 million Gourdes or US$60,000 for information leading to the capture of Vitel 'Homme' Innocent, the leader of the Kraze Baryè gang blamed for a number of killing and kidnappings in the country.

The announcement came as the National Police of Haiti (PNH) launched “Operation Tornado 1” in Torcelle, aimed at dismantling the gang and the arrest of Innocent, who is also wanted by United States authorities for conspiracy to commit hostage taking and hostage taking, according to an indictment filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Central Directorate of the Judicial Police (DCPJ), in a notice published on Sunday, announced the 10 million Gourdes reward “to any citizen providing information to the police” resulting in the  arrest of Innocent , who is considered to be “armed and dangerous”.

The authorities said that Innocent, who allegedly worked together with the gang 400 Mawozo that took part in the October 2021, kidnapping of 17 Christian Missionaries in Haiti, is wanted on kidnappings for ransom, rape, assassinations and attempted assassinations as well as armed robbery charges.

Last month, the United States Department of State's Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Programme announced that it is offering a reward of up to one million US dollars for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Innocent.

It said Innocent has ties to or may travel to the neighbouring Dominican Republic and that persons with information should contact any FBI office worldwide or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

Meanwhile, the latest report issued by the Order of Human Rights Defenders on insecurity in Haiti, claims that 64 people have been shot dead, including 18 police officers, during the month of January.

It said that 52 people were killed in January 2022.

Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry, who came to office following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, has called for an international force to help deal with the situation in Haiti.

“Haiti is going through a period of political turbulence and economic and social difficulty, aggravated by a climate of insecurity fuelled by armed criminal groups. Their behaviour is seriously disrupting the lives of peaceful citizens and my government's efforts to restore democratic institutions,” he added.

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