April 19, 2024

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US fugitive, gang member in custody after arrests in Haiti

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Lissner Mathieu, 55, (left) a naturalized U.S. citizen who goes by the nickname “Ti-Nwa,” was flown out of Port-au-Prince Friday, March 5, 2021 by U.S. federal agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration onboard a U.S. aircraft. He was joined by Peterson “Ti Peter Vilaj” Benjamin (right), a Haitian national and suspected gang leader. Both men were arrested earlier in the week by Haiti National Police and transferred.

Lissner Mathieu, 55, (remaining) a naturalized U.S. citizen who goes by the nickname “Ti-Nwa,” was flown out of Port-au-Prince Friday, March 5, 2021 by U.S. federal agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration onboard a U.S. aircraft. He was joined by Peterson “Ti Peter Vilaj” Benjamin (right), a Haitian countrywide and suspected gang chief. Both equally adult males ended up arrested previously in the week by Haiti Countrywide Police and transferred.

A convicted drug trafficker who skipped out on his probation and a suspected gang member believed to be component of a prison enterprise powering an alarming spike in kidnappings, are both in U.S. custody soon after becoming flown out of Haiti Friday by federal brokers.

Lissner Mathieu and Peterson Benjamin ended up arrested before this week by Haiti Countrywide Law enforcement. Mathieu, 55, pleaded responsible in 2006 to conspiring to import at minimum 5 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. He is accused of violating the terms of his 10-calendar year probation when he fled to Haiti in 2008. Benjamin is struggling with kidnapping prices.

Mathieu, a U.S. citizen, is regarded by the nickname, “Ti-Nwa,” or Very little Black, and has also used the previous identify Joseph on his various Haitian ID playing cards. Amongst the files confiscated by police in the course of his arrest: an formal National Palace badge delivering accessibility to the presidential grounds and places of work yet another pinpointing him as the operator of an agriculture agency and two formal nationwide identification playing cards with diverse figures. The national IDs double as voting playing cards.

Benjamin, who also goes by the identify “Ti Peter Vilaj,” is a Haitian national, and the 3rd greatest gang leader in the Village de Dieu, or Village of God, gang, Haiti Countrywide Police spokesman Garry Desrosiers reported.

Desrosiers, who verified the transfer of the two folks about to the Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation, explained Benjamin is implicated in about a dozen kidnapping scenarios, two of which concerned U.S. citizens. The gang is 1 of a number of key legal groups powering the rise in for-ransom kidnappings in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan location.

The arrests are regarded a considerable bust for U.S. legislation enforcement officials, who have been overwhelmed responding to the uptick in kidnappings, various of which have associated U.S. citizens. Victims have been forced to shell out huge sums of cash to protected their release. The arrests could also possibly enable detect back links between the authorities officials and personal individuals linked with the gangs.

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Federal brokers with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration arrived in Haiti Friday, March 5, 2021 to fly out two individuals. Lissner Mathieu, 55, in the gentle environmentally friendly shirt, is a U.S. fugitive recognised as “Ti-Nwa.” Next to him, in a a darkish environmentally friendly shirt, is Peterson “Ti Peter Vilaj” Benjamin (correct), a Haitian countrywide. The two gentlemen have been arrested before in the 7 days by Haiti Countrywide Police.

Past 12 months, the U.S. State Section lifted its Haiti travel advisory to its optimum risk classification, warning Us residents not to vacation to the troubled Caribbean nation, subsequent the remarkable increase in kidnappings, as perfectly as violent crimes like carjackings and robberies, carried out largely by armed gangs. The choice arrived after the abductions of a number of U.S. citizens, such as two Haitian-American previous energetic responsibility U.S. military veterans. The two adult males ended up the two taken to Village de Dieu, where they were being held captive at gunpoint.

Village de Dieu, which is now controlled by a gang chief recognized as “Izo,” was previously commanded by Arnel Joseph, a notorious gang chief who was killed previous 7 days by Haiti police after he and extra than 400 other prisoners escaped from the Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison on the outskirts of the money.

Haitian officers this week declared a sequence of new actions they say are aimed at cutting down kidnappings, which have increased by 200% about the past yr, according to the United Nations. They contain a new emergency telephone variety to contact the police in the function of kidnapping, bolstered police existence about the cash, and a ban on all tinted home windows on personal autos. President Jovenel Moïse also announced the creation of an anti-kidnapping unit to reinforce another, very similar pressure that previously exists in the judicial police.

In accordance to U.S. court docket information, Mathieu started off arranging shipments of cocaine concerning Haiti and Port Richmond, New York, in 2001 for a fee of $3,000 for every kilogram for the drug business he was operating for. Quickly, he made the decision to branch out on his individual. He afterwards admitted in court to importing about 500 kilograms of cocaine concerning 2001 and 2003, laundering the proceeds to Haiti, the place his businesses consist of an ice-earning business.

In 2008, Mathieu was granted authorization by his supervising probation officer to vacation to Haiti to are likely to personal issues. But as a substitute of returning back again to the U.S., he stayed in Haiti, where by he has been living at any time considering that. A U.S. probation officer later asked for that a warrant be issued for Mathieu’s arrest, and that his supervised launch be revoked.

Miami Herald Team Writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report.

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Jacqueline Charles has noted on Haiti and the English-talking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for around a 10 years. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she was awarded a 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize — the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas.