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US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

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US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison
News

News

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

2024-06-25 07:46 Last Updated At:07:50

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A man who once described himself as “king” of a notoriously violent gang in Haiti and is linked to the kidnapping of 16 U.S. citizens was sentenced to 35 years in prison Monday in a federal court in Washington, D.C.

Germine Joly, best known as “Yonyon,” had pleaded guilty in late January to weapons smuggling and the laundering of ransoms related to the U.S. citizens kidnapped in October 2021, bringing his trial to a halt.

The case against Joly is part of an ongoing push by U.S. authorities to stem the smuggling of weapons from the U.S. to Haiti, where gangs control 80% of the capital and have left more than 580,000 people homeless as they continue to pillage neighborhoods in a quest to seize more territory. U.S. officials also are trying to crack down on the kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Haiti, whose ransoms finance the purchase of illegal arms and ammunition.

“The leaders of violent gangs in Haiti that terrorize Americans citizens in order to fuel their criminal activity will be met with the full force of the Justice Department," U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

Joly, 31, had asked the judge for leniency and forgiveness, with his attorneys requesting that he receive no more than 17.5 years in prison. The attorneys did not immediately return messages for comment.

Joly was co-leader of the 400 Mawozo, which translates roughly to “400 Simpletons,” one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs. It controls part of Croix-des-Bouquets, a neighborhood in the eastern region of the Port-au-Prince capital and surrounding areas. It also operates along a route that connects the capital with the border city of Jimaní in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

The gang is known for its high record of kidnappings as well as trafficking of drugs and weapons, killings, rapes and armed robberies, among other things, according to a U.N. report.

“The 400 Mawazo gang not only wreaks havoc in its own communities but targets innocent Americans living and traveling in Haiti," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

Three shipments containing smuggled weapons and ammunition arrived in Haiti in 2021, shortly before the gang kidnapped 17 missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens, the U.N. report noted. The weapons alone were estimated to cost roughly $28,000, it added.

“This single case indicates that 400 Mawozo is able to mobilize significant amounts of money to acquire firearms and ammunition,” the report stated.

The gang is still led by Joseph Wilson, best known as “Lanmò San Jou,” which means “Death has no date,” and it is an ally of G-Pep, a powerful gang federation.

Haitian authorities announced a warrant for Wilson in late 2020, but he has yet to be detained.

Meanwhile, Haitian police arrested Joly in 2014, and in 2018, a local judge sentenced him to life in prison, from where authorities said he still directed gang operations, including the October 2021 kidnapping of 12 adults and five minors after they visited an orphanage in the Croix-des-Bouquets area. The group included 16 Americans and one Canadian who worked with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.

The organization said 12 of the captive missionaries escaped, with five others previously freed, although it’s unclear if any ransom was paid.

In 2022, the U.S. government extradited Joly.

Joly’s former girlfriend, Eliande Tunis of Pompano Beach, Florida, had been sentenced earlier this month to 12.5 years in prison. Tunis, 46, had pleaded guilty in late January to the same charges Joly faced.

U.S. federal prosecutors had accused Joly, Tunis and two other suspects of buying and supplying weapons to the 400 Mawozo gang from at least March through November 2021. The weapons included those designed for “military and close-quarters combat” such as AK-47s, AR-15s and a .50 caliber rifle, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The agency said that Joly, who was in prison in Haiti at the time, directed operations using unmonitored cell phones. He still faces separate charges in another case related to the kidnappings of the U.S. citizens.

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

FILE - Kenya police patrol the streets of Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Hundreds of Kenyan police officers are leaving for Haiti, where they will lead a multinational force against powerful gangs. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

FILE - Kenya police patrol the streets of Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Hundreds of Kenyan police officers are leaving for Haiti, where they will lead a multinational force against powerful gangs. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

CLEVELAND (AP) — José Ramírez's two-run single highlighted a six-run eighth inning, Tanner Bibee and three relievers combined on a four-hitter, and the American League Central-leading Cleveland Guardians beat the San Diego Padres 7-0 on Friday night.

Cleveland had five hits and a bases-loaded walk by David Fry in the eighth, but the big hit was a single up the middle by Ramírez that gave him 79 RBIs — the second-most in the majors behind Yankees slugger Aaron Judge (86).

Brayan Rocchio added a two-run single and Tyler Freeman had a sacrifice fly in the inning for the Guardians, who have the best home record in the majors at 31-11. Their 59-37 overall mark trails only Philadelphia (62-35).

Bibee (8-4) worked 5 2/3 innings, limiting San Diego to two hits and not allowing a runner past second base. Cade Smith, Hunter Gaddis and Nick Sandlin wrapped up Cleveland’s ninth shutout of the season.

The Padres, who have played an MLB-high 100 games, slipped to .500. They are 1 1/2 games out of the final NL wild-card spot.

Luis Arraez led off and served as San Diego’s designated hitter, going 2 for 4. The third-time All-Star sat out the Midsummer Classic in Texas this week to rest his jammed left thumb.

“I know he wanted to play, but being the team guy he is, Luis decided to hold himself out,” manager Mike Shildt said before the game. “I think it did his thumb a lot of good.”

The Guardians took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on Daniel Schneemann’s double off Matt Waldron (5-9). Fry scored on the play and went 3 for 3, three days after singling home a run in his All-Star Game debut.

Waldron gave up six hits, did not issue a walk and struck out six. The righty was drafted by Cleveland and traded to the Padres in a nine-player deal that included Josh Naylor.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Padres: OF Fernando Tatis Jr. (right leg stress reaction) missed his 18th straight game, but is swinging a bat and playing catch. “It’s still there -- the actual stress reaction — but the swelling and fluid is pretty well gone,” Shildt said. “That’s obviously a positive.”

Guardians: LHP Matthew Boyd (Tommy John surgery) struck out seven over three innings, allowing an unearned run, in his initial rehab appearance for the Arizona Complex League Guardians. Boyd is targeting mid-August for his return to the majors.

UP NEXT

Padres RHP Dylan Cease (8-8, 3.99 ERA) takes on Guardians RHP Gavin Williams (0-1, 3.77 ERA) in the second game of the series. Cease has thrown 1,078 breaking balls over his 20 starts, the most in the majors.

This story has been corrected to show that the Guardians scored six runs in the eighth inning, not ninth.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Cleveland Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, left, helps Guardians first-round draft pick Travis Bazzana, right, of Australia, with his jersey at a news conference before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, left, helps Guardians first-round draft pick Travis Bazzana, right, of Australia, with his jersey at a news conference before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians' Bo Naylor reacts after striking out against San Diego Padres starting pitcher Matt Waldron during the third inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians' Bo Naylor reacts after striking out against San Diego Padres starting pitcher Matt Waldron during the third inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Matt Waldron delivers against the Cleveland Guardians during the first inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Matt Waldron delivers against the Cleveland Guardians during the first inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Kyle Higashioka reacts after getting caught stealing second base by Cleveland Guardians' Andres Gimenez during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Kyle Higashioka reacts after getting caught stealing second base by Cleveland Guardians' Andres Gimenez during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Ha-Seong Kim, second from left, is late with a tag as Cleveland Guardians' Steven Kwan, right, steals second base during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Ha-Seong Kim, second from left, is late with a tag as Cleveland Guardians' Steven Kwan, right, steals second base during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Jackson Merrill reacts after a strike out by Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Jackson Merrill reacts after a strike out by Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians' Andres Gimenez, left, tags San Diego Padres' Kyle Higashioka out at second base on a steal attempt during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians' Andres Gimenez, left, tags San Diego Padres' Kyle Higashioka out at second base on a steal attempt during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Jake Cronenworth watches his single off Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

San Diego Padres' Jake Cronenworth watches his single off Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee delivers against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee delivers against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians' Daniel Schneemann watches his RBI single off San Diego Padres starting pitcher Matt Waldron as catcher Kyle Higashioka looks on during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Cleveland Guardians' Daniel Schneemann watches his RBI single off San Diego Padres starting pitcher Matt Waldron as catcher Kyle Higashioka looks on during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

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