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Joseph Lambert is the sitting President of the Haitian Senate and has held political positions in Haiti for 20 years.

The US Treasury Department levied financial sanctions against Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue; who are accused of having “actively contributed” to drug trafficking that passes through that Caribbean country. According to the Treasury Department, Lambert, a Presidential candidate last year after the assassination of the sitting Haitian President, and Latortue, one of his predecessors in office as well as a cousin of former Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, “have abused their official positions to traffic drugs and collaborated with criminal networks. “Criminals and gangs to undermine the rule of law in Haiti.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In another statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims that Lambert is involved in “significant corruption and a serious violation of human rights.” Blinken said that there is also evidence that Lambert is behind an extrajudicial execution.

The State Department, which also blacklisted Lambert’s wife, Jesula Lambert Domond, bars them from entering the United States. The Canadian government, which has a large Haitian community, announced that it will join the US sanctions by taking similar steps. Through the sanctions, the Treasury Department hopes to seize any assets the two politicians have under US jurisdiction and prevent any individual or entity in the United States, including international banks, from doing business with them.

Latortue vehemently denied the allegations, Tweeting Friday: “Drugs: Never! Gangs: I’m against! Laundering: I fought corruption & laundering with numerous public reports-Violence: listen to my speeches to the contrary! Arms trafficking? Lies! No due process! No confrontation!”
“To my family, my friends & supporters: I will defend myself with law and truth,” he continued.”

Lambert and Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lambert and Latortue are accused of having gang ties.
A classified 2006 US diplomatic memorandum leaked in 2010 by Wikileaks claimed that Latortue may be “the most corrupt of the top Haitian politicians.” The Treasury assures that Lambert and Latortue have a long history of drug trafficking.
According to the statement, “Lambert used his position to lead and facilitate the trafficking of cocaine from Colombia to Haiti and to facilitate impunity in Haiti for other narcotics traffickers. Lambert has also directed others to engage in violence on his behalf,” it said. “His drug trafficking, corrupt tactics, and continued disregard for the rule of law have contributed to the continued destabilization of Haiti.”

“Like Lambert, Latortue has also had lengthy involvement in drug trafficking activities,” the release said. “Latortue has engaged in the trafficking of cocaine from Colombia to Haiti and has directed others to engage in violence on his behalf.” Latortue served as president of the chamber from 2017 to 2018.

“The United States and our international partners will continue to take action against those who facilitate drug trafficking, enable corruption, and seek to profit from the instability in Haiti,” Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson said. For his part, Kirby said US authorities “stand ready to take additional action, as appropriate, against other bad actors.”

As part of efforts to continue imposing consequences and holding accountable those fomenting violence in Haiti, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is announcing reward offers of up to $1 million each for information leading to the arrests and/or convictions of three Haitian nationals — Lanmò Sanjou, a/k/a Joseph Wilson, Jermaine Stephenson, a/k/a Gaspiyay, and Vitel‘Homme Innocent — for conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate in transnational organized crime. He is doing so in conjunction with the announcement of charges against the three individuals by the U.S. Department of Justice.

On October 16, 2021, the 400 Mawozo gang engaged in a conspiracy to kidnap 16 U.S. Christian missionaries and one Canadian missionary and hold them for ransom. The missionaries were abducted after visiting an orphanage in the town of Ganthier, east of Port-au-Prince. The kidnapping victims of the missionary group included twelve adults and five children.

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Haiti’s Federation of Gangs

Haiti’s gangs have expanded their power since the shocking 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, and Ariel Henry has faced difficulties in restoring order to the country. With over 150 active gangs in Haiti, the most prominent is the G9 federation of gangs which are bound to have critical allies and dangerous enemies.

The G9 Family or Federation of gangs has brought Haiti to a virtual standstill, leading to fuel and drinking water shortages. In September, Prime Minister Ariel Henry cut fuel subsidies, sending costs flying and people into the streets protesting. Gangs responded by blockading the key Varreux fuel terminal that supplies 70% of Haiti’s fuel. This has forced businesses and hospitals to reduce their hours or shut down and imperil access to food and clean drinking water amid a resurgence of cholera that has killed dozens.

The gang federation was founded in June 2020 by former police officer turned gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, alias “Barbecue.”
 The G9 Family coalition allowed member gangs to expand their territory and offer politicians a unified weapon with which to suppress their opposition. The group is also referred to by the longer name G9 Fanmi e Alye (G9 Family and Allies) as well as G20 for the expanded gang support network. It originally was composed of nine gangs from Cite Soleil, La Saline, and lower Delmas but has since grown to include more than a dozen gangs, according to a U.N. Security Council report. In mid-2020, the gang alliance was accused of killing at least 145 people in Cite Soleil and raping multiple women “in efforts to claim areas held by rivals with ties to Moïse’s political opponents.”

Formerly linked to since-assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and his ruling Haitian Tèt Kale Party (Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale – PHTK), for whom the G9 is alleged to have ensured votes and quelled social unrest in gang-controlled neighborhoods, the coalition now threatens to challenge the Haitian state itself, with Chérizier calling for a “revolution” in June 2021.

The G9 had already somewhat distanced itself from Moïse, with Chérizier filming a video in June in which he called for a revolution against the opposition, business sector, and Moïse’s party. In the aftermath of the assassination, Chérizier publicly mourned Moïse, including leading a crowd of more than 1,000 demonstrators calling for justice against the perpetrators.

At present, the G9 remains a local or at most regional criminal actor, with no links to transnational criminal activities like drug trafficking. This is not only because member gangs are focused on national politics, but also because each group remains financially independent from the coalition, limiting larger-scale criminal investments.  The U.N. Security Council has also approved a resolution that imposes sanctions on Jimmy Chérizier, otherwise known as “Barbecue”. He is accused of threatening the country’s peace, security, or stability. The US imposed sanctions on “Barbecue” back in December 2020.

Who is Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier?

Jimmy Chérizier’s criminal career dates back to at least 2017. That year, in November, Chérizier the police officer took part in a supposed anti-gang operation in the Grand Ravine neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, which ended in the extrajudicial execution of at least 14 innocent civilians. He worked with the Departmental Crowd Control Unit, which is deployed when there are riots or protests and has been accused of excessive force. A year later, in November 2018, Chérizier was allegedly involved in murdering up to 71 more people in what became known as the La Saline Massacre, the worst to rock Haiti in more than a decade.
He was promptly fired and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Yet Chérizier would evade capture, even participating in another massacre in Bel-Air in 2019 and a coordinated multi-gang attack in May 2020 in the Cité Soleil commune, a politically strategic area.

He was allegedly able to do all this because of the material, logistical and financial support provided to gangs by the government of President Moïse, which enabled and encouraged these state-sponsored massacres through transfers of money, weapons, police uniforms, and government vehicles, according to one report. After Haiti’s government requested the immediate deployment of foreign troops, Chérizier announced that he was seeking amnesty and the removal of all arrest warrants against him and his allies.

Gang violence and protests have increased in the past several years.

Possible Foreign Troop Intervention

The UN discusses the possibility of sending an international armed force to restore calm, following a request from the Haitian government in early October. John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Friday that a multinational force for Haiti was under discussion. “We are actively engaged in conversations with a variety of partners about what a force could look like,” he said. “No decision has been made on the involvement of any particular state,” he said, adding that the force would be limited to “the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

The United Nations in recent weeks adopted a security council resolution, proposed by the US and Mexico, to impose sanctions on criminal leaders in Haiti. The US and Mexico have also backed another resolution that would create “a limited, carefully scoped, non-U.N. mission led by a partner country with the deep, necessary experience required for such an effort to be effective,” in the words of the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

A Chinese delegate at the United Nations this month questioned whether such a force would be supported by Haitians — or would instead trigger more unrest.

America has a long history of intervening in Haitian politics. The ruthless dictator François Duvalier enjoyed American support in the form of aid and military training. American support continued under the despotic rule of Mr. Duvalier’s son, Jean-Claude. The CIA funded far-right Haitian paramilitaries during a period of military rule in Haiti in the 1990s. The US then invaded the country to overthrow the military government in 1994, and deployed Marines to restore order after another coup in 2004.

Former Senator Yvon Buissereth and his nephew were killed by the Ti Makak gang.

Political Assassinations

In recent months, several notable politicians in Haiti have been assassinated by the gangs, including a political party leader, a former Senator, and, in 2021 the President of Haiti Jovenel Moise. 
Eric Jean Baptiste, a politician, and lottery business magnate, and one of his bodyguards were killed in Laboule 12, a leafy hillside area in Port-au-Prince after attackers opened fire on their vehicle, officials said. Jean Baptiste, 52, headed the center-left Assembly of the Progressive National Democrats Party and once sought Haiti’s presidency. Ricardo Nordain, a party official, said Jean Baptiste’s armored vehicle flipped over when it was ambushed.
Laboule 12 is in the crosshairs of a gang called Ti Makak. The gang was implicated in the assassination this year of a former Haitian senator. Three police officers were also killed there last month. The conflict that began in 2020 involves a land dispute between Ti Makak and an armed group backed by Jean Mossanto Petit, a businessman. The Haiti-based Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights said in a report last month that Ti Makak is carrying out more shootings and kidnappings to strengthen its position in the conflict against the Toto gang for control of the area.

The president of the Senate, Joseph Lambert, now under US sanctions for drug trafficking, wrote on the social network: “Senator Yvon Buissereth has died today (Saturday). The head of the Ti Makak gang killed him and burned him. This is one more disgusting act that continues to make us cry (…) this situation must not continue like this.

 

A former Senator who worked for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor was killed in an upscale neighborhood near Haiti’s capital and his body was set on fire along with his nephew. Yvon Buissereth and his nephew were killed while driving on a road that a growing number of Haitians are using to avoid the Martissant area, which connects Port-au-Prince with Haiti’s southern region and is controlled by warring gangs that have killed or injured dozens of civilians in that area. The bodies were found Saturday afternoon in the community of Laboule. 
That is near Pelerin, where President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his private home in July last year. According to an official White House statement following the assassination; Moise was an ally in fighting against corruption and for democracy. The opposition in Haiti had accused Washington, Haiti’s top foreign donor, of being lenient towards Moise because of his support for U.S. foreign policy. Moise, who entered office in 2017, had faced calls to resign and mass protests over accusations of corruption, his management of the economy, and his increasing grip on power.
Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise was assassinated by Colombian and American mercenaries in July 2021.

President’s Assassins Posed as DEA Agents

A squad of gunmen assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and wounded his wife in an overnight raid on their home on July 7, 2021, inflicting growing chaos in a country already enduring gang violence and political protests. Police said they killed four suspects and arrested two others hours later. Three police officers held hostage by the suspected gunmen were freed late Wednesday, said Léon Charles, chief of Haiti’s National Police.

Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., said the attack on the 53-year-old Moïse was carried out by “well-trained professional commandos” and “foreign mercenaries”.

Several of the mercenaries were masquerading as agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA has an office in the Haitian capital to assist the government in counter-narcotics programs, according to the U.S. Embassy. Edmond said the gunmen falsely identified themselves as agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), citing video footage the government has in its possession, but added, “No way they were DEA agents.” State Department spokesman Ned Price said reports the attackers were DEA agents were “absolutely false.” The Colombian government has said that 18 former Colombian soldiers suspected in the slaying have been detained in Haiti. Colombian government officials have said that the majority of former soldiers were duped and did not know about the real mission. 

Former Haitian senator Joseph Joel John was charged in the US for being one of several suspects behind the Presidential assassination.
A former Haitian senator is facing charges in the United States stemming from his alleged involvement in last year’s assassination of Jovenel Moïse, Haiti’s President, the Justice Department announced. As alleged in the complaint, which was unsealed today, former Haitian senator Joseph Joel John and others, including approximately 20 Colombian citizens and a number of Haitian-American dual citizens, participated in a plot to kidnap or kill the Haitian President. Sources said Joseph paid in cash for rental cars used by the attackers and had met with other suspects ahead of the killing, including Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian businessman and evangelical pastor who had expressed a desire to lead his country. Associates have suggested that Sanon was duped by the true masterminds of the assassination. He was arrested shortly after the killing. The report also stated that the former senator introduced other suspects to Joseph Badio, an alleged leader of the plot who previously worked for Haiti’s Ministry of Justice and the government’s anti-corruption unit until he was fired.

While the plot initially focused on conducting a kidnapping of the Haitian President as part of a purported arrest operation. It ultimately resulted in a plot to kill the President. The complaint alleges that on July 7, 2021, various co-conspirators entered President Moïse’s residence in Haiti with the intent and purpose of killing him, and in fact, the President was killed.  

As alleged in the complaint, John helped to obtain vehicles and attempted to obtain firearms to support the operation against the president. It is also alleged that John attended a meeting with certain co-conspirators on or about July 6, 2021, after which many of the co-conspirators embarked on the mission to kill President Moïse. More than 40 people, including more than a dozen Colombians and some Americans of Haitian origin, have been arrested in connection with the assassination. US authorities charged a retired Colombian soldier in connection with Moise’s killing. The Justice Department said 43-year-old Mario Palacios, along with others, “participated in a plot to kidnap or kill the Haitian President.” Mario Palacios was arrested in Jamaica and extradited to the US.

James Solages, a Haitian-American arrested in the case, had a WhatsApp conversation with Joseph regarding preparations for the mission. And it said that Solages told authorities that Joseph, Badio, and Rodolphe Jaar, a Haitian citizen and former US government informant arrested on Jan. 7 in the Dominican Republic, were among those appointed leaders of the operation. Jaar, who uses the alias Whiskey, was indicted in federal court in South Florida in 2013 on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela through Haiti to the US. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nearly four years behind bars, according to court records.

At Jaar’s 2015 sentencing hearing, his attorney told the court that the man had been a confidential source for the US government for several years. He also agreed to cooperate with the feds and asked for a lighter sentence, saying he had a wife, a 1-year-old child and elderly parents.

Joseph Joel John was extradited from Jamaica to the US and appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Miami. He is charged with conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside of the U.S. and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. The report also stated that the former senator introduced other suspects to Joseph Badio, an alleged leader of the plot who previously worked for Haiti’s Ministry of Justice and the government’s anti-corruption unit until he was fired.
Current Prime Minister Ariel Henry has also been accused of being involved in the President’s assassination as well after being appointed by him.

Henry, who has been essentially running the country since the President’s assassination is credibly linked to the assassination and has fired two prosecutors probing the crime. Haitian investigators believed that Henry himself was involved in both the planning of the assassination and a subsequent cover-up. A private meeting between Henry and one of the top suspects, Josephy Badio in the case, they believed, would help connect those dots. The plan was to arrest Badio when he left the house and then, at a later date and with proof of the meeting in hand, arrest Henry as well. But Badio never showed up.

Ariel Henry reshuffled his cabinet in November 2021, appointing a lawyer, Berto Dorcé, as justice minister. Prior to that appointment, Dorcé was among several attorneys who filed a letter to the country’s top prosecutor arguing that Henry should not be forced to answer questions about his alleged complicity in the assassination, citing Henry’s executive privilege. Dorcé was arrested for drug trafficking in 1997, according to a Haiti law enforcement source, a charge he said at the time was untrue. He now oversees huge swaths of the justice apparatus in Haiti. That gives him the ability to block any further requests from prosecutors or judges to question or charge Henry.