Leader of Haitian Gang Pleads Guilty in U.S. Court for Arms Smuggling and Hostage Ransom Laundering

Gang Leader’s Guilty Plea:

Joly Germine, the self-proclaimed “King” of the notorious Haitian gang, 400 Mawozo, pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to charges related to a gunrunning conspiracy and money laundering.

The charges involved smuggling firearms to Haiti, violating U.S. export laws, and laundering ransoms paid for U.S. hostages held by the gang in 2021.

Firearm Smuggling Operation:

The conspiracy orchestrated by Germine led to the purchase of at least 24 firearms in the United States, including military-grade weapons like AK-47s, AR-15s, and a .50 caliber rifle.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) identified these weapons as military-grade and deemed them integral to the gang’s criminal activities in Haiti.

Prosecution’s Perspective:

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen emphasized Germine’s admission to an illegal gun-running scheme, highlighting its connection to the gang’s violent activities, including the kidnapping of 14 U.S. citizens in 2021.

The Justice Department pledged an aggressive pursuit of those engaging in illicit activities, particularly the smuggling of U.S. weapons for malicious actors and criminal enterprises.

Addressing Gang Violence in Haiti:

U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves underscored the role played by Germine and his co-defendant, Eliande Tunis, in leading a violent gang in Haiti.

He emphasized their involvement in arming the gang and laundering ransom proceeds obtained from kidnapping Americans.

Halting their illegal activities was deemed crucial to preventing further violence.

FBI’s Dedicated Efforts:

Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office reiterated the FBI’s commitment to disrupting and dismantling gangs involved in hostage-taking, particularly when U.S. citizens are at risk.

The focus was on depriving such gangs of the means to perpetrate violence through the smuggling of firearms.

Legal Proceedings and Sentencing:

The guilty plea came at the conclusion of the government’s case during trial, featuring testimony from 24 witnesses over two weeks.

Germine faces up to life in prison for his role in the conspiracy.

Co-defendant Eliande Tunis, previously referred to as Germine’s “wife,” had also pleaded guilty and faces a similar potential sentence.

Overview of Gang’s Operations:

The evidence presented at trial highlighted Germine’s coordination of the gang’s operations from a Haitian prison, directing the acquisition of firearms using unmonitored cell phones.

The gang’s activities included armed hostage takings, ransom payments, and the smuggling of firearms from the United States to Haiti.

Collaborative Investigation:

The FBI Miami Field Office led the investigation with assistance from ATF, the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, and valuable support from the government of Haiti.

The collaboration involved various U.S. agencies, emphasizing the international dimension of the case.

Prosecution Team:

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen P. Seifert and Kimberly Paschall, along with Trial Attorney Beau Barnes from the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Their roles in presenting the case and ensuring legal proceedings are highlighted.

In summary, Joly Germine’s guilty plea marks a significant milestone in the legal pursuit of individuals involved in arms smuggling and money laundering for violent gangs, particularly those targeting U.S. citizens in Haiti.

The legal proceedings and potential life sentences underscore the gravity of the charges and the commitment to justice.

The case serves as a testament to collaborative efforts between U.S. and international agencies in addressing transnational criminal enterprises.