Haitian police arrest a lead figure in 400 Mawozo, gang behind missionaries’ kidnapping
The Haitian National Police (PNH) have announced the arrest of an influential leader in 400 Mawozo, a gang operating in and around Croix-des-Bouquets that has been tied to numerous kidnappings and violent crimes.
Alleged gang leader Chouby Fenelon was arrested on Jan. 22 while receiving treatment at a Port-au-Prince hospital after being injured in clashes between the gang and police, PNH has confirmed. Fenelon is accused by police of involvement in cases of kidnapping and assassination.
On Jan. 19, police also arrested Kesnel Noel, the father of gang leader Wendy Charles, multiple Haitian media outlets reported. Noel is considered a key suspect, PNH announced in a Jan. 22 Facebook post.
Police are launching widespread operations against gang activity in Croix-des-Bouquets, to bring order to area residents, PNH also announced, on Facebook.
Human rights groups and Haitian authorities have linked the 400 Mawozo gang to fatal shootings, along with kidnappings and other crimes that have targeted ordinary Haitians and foreign nationals alike.
The 400 Mawozo attracted international attention in October 2021 when its members kidnapped 17 Christian missionaries, including a Canadian and 16 Americans. Although the details are unclear, an unspecified ransom payment was involved in the eventual release of the captives in December. The gang is also suspected of being behind other kidnappings, including that of 10 Catholic clergy and worshipers from France and Haiti in April 2021.