Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023 — This is a developing story that will be updated as more information comes to light.
UPDATE (2:00 PM)
Here’s a list of the government officials the UN report alleges supports major gangs in Haiti, and how.
- ProphaneVictor: He armed youth from Petite Rivière to form the notorious Gran Grif gang, now the most influential in the Artibonite Department.
- Youri Latortue: The former Senate President is linked to the Kokorat San Ras gang, known for its extreme violence. UN experts received a video where Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier claims Latortue provided $30,000.
- Michel Martelly: Martelly funded several gangs, including Base 257, Village de Dieu, Ti Bois and Grand Ravine, to advance his political agenda, contributing to ongoing insecurity.
- Reynold Deeb: Deeb financed gang members to safeguard his company, Deka Groupe, and secure the uninterrupted transport of his imported goods. These gangs also pressured customs officers to evade inspections.
These revelations paint a startling picture of Haiti’s complex landscape.
UPDATE (1:15 PM)
UN 2023 report reveals Haiti gangs’ sources of income
The UN Panel’s detailed investigation shows the various sources of income criminal gangs in Haiti have at their disposal. Among them:
- Extortion, theft and the hijacking of both passenger and private vehicles. This criminal activity is particularly prevalent on national roads, with gangs targeting freight trucks that transport valuable goods, including fuel and manufactured products. Hijackers demand ransoms ranging from U.S. $1,000 to $3,000 per hijacked truck, based on vehicle’s size and the cargo’s value.
- Unlawful taxes on the local population, where citizens are forced to pay for public services that the gangs do not genuinely provide, including water and electricity.
The situation is particularly concerning along the Route National #2 in Martissant, where several powerful gangs, such as 5 Segond, Grand Ravine, and Ti Bois, exert control. These groups frequently engage in criminal activities, adding to the complexity of the security situation in the area. Control Over Businesses and Institutions: Gangs have also extended their influence over various aspects of daily life. They exercise control over businesses and institutions within the areas they dominate, often resorting to extortion and intimidation tactics to maintain this grip.
These findings provide a stark view of the financial mechanisms that empower gangs in Haiti. As authorities and organizations grapple with the country’s security crisis, understanding these sources of income is a crucial step in combating criminality and restoring stability to the region. Stay tuned for further developments on this pressing issue.
UPDATE (1: 00 PM)
Sanctions committee calls for arrests of Haitian officials along with travel bans, other measures
The UN Sanctions Committee established by Resolution 2653 in 2022 is calling for immediate measures to apprehend those individuals targeted by the UN sanctions. The Committee, in its pursuit of justice, has sought the expertise of INTERPOL to establish a cooperation agreement for the publication of special notices.
The upcoming sanctions list, set for release in November, is expected to encompass individuals from various sectors within the country, including two former presidents, three former prime ministers, current and former ministers, private business leaders, and political figures. Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.
ORIGINAL STORY (12:45PM)
Ex-President Martelly, other Haitian government officials linked to gangs
NEW YORK—In a damning report, a United Nations commission of experts said high-level government officials including Haiti’s former President Joseph Michel Martelly have been involved in financing or creating the gangs that have overrun the country. Named in the report along with Martelly are Youri Latortue, a former Senator and President of the Senate, and Prophane Victor, former Deputy and President of the Chamber of Deputies.
Today’s report is the first time the United Nations has explicitly named alleged backers, although Canada and the United States have been sanctioning Martelly is named as the highest-profile figure with alleged ties to criminal activities.
The panel’s findings suggest that during his presidency from 2011 to 2016, Martelly leveraged gangs to expand his influence in various neighborhoods to advance his political agenda, leaving a legacy of insecurity that continues to afflict the nation. The report goes on to claim that Martelly not only financially supported multiple gangs and provided them with weapons during his tenure but also, according to multiple sources, played a role in the creation of a specific gang known as “Base 257.” This gang is reportedly involved in a range of criminal activities, including murders, kidnappings, robberies, and drug trafficking.
Shedding light on the extent of his alleged involvement, the report reveals that Martelly used intermediaries, including foundations or members of his security detail, to establish connections and negotiate with other criminal groups.
These shocking revelations have sent shockwaves through Haiti, as the nation grapples with the far-reaching implications of these findings. Stay tuned for further updates on this developing story.