Criminal charges have been filed against leaders of five notorious Haitian gangs, including gang leaders involved in the horrifying kidnappings of more than a dozen Christian missionaries a year ago, the Department of Justice announced Monday.
In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland declared, "When a U.S. citizen is kidnapped abroad, the Justice Department will bring to bear the full reach of our law enforcement authorities to ensure their safe return home and to hold accountable those responsible."
"We are committed to working alongside our interagency and international partners to disrupt these kidnapping-for-ransom schemes that endanger the lives of American citizens and that fuel the violent gangs harming the Haitian people," he added.
The 16 victims of the Oct. 16, 2021, kidnappings were missionaries serving near Port-au-Price, Haiti, and most of them were held captive for 61 days before escaping. The group included five children — one just 8 months old, the DOJ reported.
Along with the announcement of charges, the DOJ announced a whopping $3 million reward for information leading to the capture of three defendants who are believed to still be in Haiti.
Also, along with the indictments for the kidnappings, the DOJ said it filed charges against four other Haitian nationals who head the gangs responsible for two other kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Haiti.
"The charges unsealed today are a reminder of the FBI's ability to reach criminal actors overseas when crimes are committed against U.S citizens," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "The FBI, with our federal and international partners, will continue to pursue anyone who targets Americans for hostage taking or other violent crimes — wherever they are."
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