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By Jordan Freiman
July 7, 2022 / 5:34 PM / CBS News
A member of Haiti’s 400 Mawozo gang has been charged in connection with the 2021 kidnapping of 17 missionaries, 16 of whom are American, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Jean Pelice, 27, is charged with hostage taking.
According to the Justice Department, Pelice, also known as “Zo,” and other members of 400 Mawozo “used firearms to guard the missionaries during their captivity.” Pelice has been in U.S. custody since May 16, the Justice Department said. Pelice is the second person to be charged in connection with the kidnapping.
Joly Germine, a leader of the gang, had previously been charged with . He has pleaded not guilty.
Prior to being transferred to U.S. custody in May, Germine, 29, had been in custody in Haiti since 2018. In a previous indictment for the trafficking charges, the Justice Department claimed that Germine had still been running the 400 Mowazo gang from prison using “unmonitored” cell phones.
The Justice Department alleges that, in addition to the $1 million ransom demanded for each hostage, 400 Mawozo also sought to secure Germine’s release from prison in exchange for the hostages’ freedom.
Germine also faces , to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The group of missionaries was taken hostage near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in October 2021 Two hostages were in November 2021 and three more were in early December. The remaining 12 were released later in December. It was not clear how any of their releases were secured, or if a ransom was paid, but, according to the indictment charging Germine with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, the last group of hostages to be freed had “escaped from captivity.”
First published on July 7, 2022 / 5:34 PM
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