The 400 Mawozo gang is the largest gang in Haiti, mainly based in Ganthier and in c's Tabarre and Pétion-Ville. It largely consists of deportees, former leaders of opposition groups, former smugglers and police officers. In 2022, it aligned itself with "G-Pep" after its leader was extradited to the United States.[1] It came to international attention in October 2021 when it kidnapped U.S. citizens acting as missionaries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.[2][3]

400 Mawozo
Years activec.2020-present
TerritoryGanthier, Tabarre and Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Leader(s)Wilson "Lanmò Sanjou" Joseph
ActivitiesMurder, rape, kidnapping



On Saturday, 16 October 2021, 17 Christian missionaries from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries were abducted by 400 Mawozo.[4] Typically, after a kidnapping, the gang makes a demand for a ransom. In a previous kidnapping, in April 2021, the group demanded $1 million apiece for the release of Catholic missionaries.[5] The gang's name, loosely translated from Creole, means 400 simpletons, or untrained men. Although kidnappings have been its new trade, the gang is known for threatening the use of rape and assassination to maintain power over the areas it controls.[6] According to former Haitian Senator Jean Renel Senatus, who headed the justice and security commission, the group was originally called "Texas" and was known for holding up residents and stealing motorcycles. Senatus himself had also received death threats from the group.[7] Their alleged leader is Wilson Joseph who goes by the nickname "Lanmò San Jou" or "Lanmò Sanjou", which literally means "death knows no days." He flaunted the arrest warrant against him in online videos detailing his group's crimes.[8] The group's second-in-command is Joly "Yonyon" Germine, who is currently incarcerated.[6]

On 16 December 2021, the Haitian justice minister announced that all the captives had been freed. Later it was found out that they had escaped.[9] Several of the captives had been freed in earlier weeks.

On 7 November 2022, the United States Department of State announced reward offers of up to US$1,000,000 each for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Lanmò Sanjou and two other Haitian gang leaders—Jermaine Stephenson, or Gaspiyay; and Vitel'Homme Innocent—for their roles in the kidnappings.[10][11][12] Innocent was added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's list of Most Wanted Fugitives in November 2023.[13]

On 13 March 2024, a Youtube personality specialized in touring dangerous places—YourFellowArab (Addison Pierre Maalouf)—was kidnapped on his way to interview Jimmy Chérizier. Members of the 400 Mawozo gang demanded a ransom of $600,000 for his release. The U.S. State Department confirmed that a U.S. citizen had been kidnapped.[14] Maalouf was released unharmed later that month.[15][16]

2022 Gang war


In April–May 2022, clashes between the rival gangs, 400 Mawozo and Chen Mechan, occurred in the Plain of the Cul-de-Sac area.[17]In December 2023, Joseph Wilson and three other gang leaders, including Vitel'Homme Innocent, became subject to UN sanctions.[18]

According to Insight Crime, 400 Mawozo was feared in 2022 because of their innovative methods, in particular "express kidnapping", but also for the "high-powered weaponry, participation criminal economies, and politicial connections" which permit all gangs to prosper in Haiti. In 2022, their control of Croix-des-Bouquets extended to the prison, the voting station, and the only route connecting Port-au-Prince to the north of the island. In addition to truck hijackings, they are involved in smuggling contraband and the traffic of drugs, arms, and people along the border with the Dominican Republic.[19] On 1 February 2024, Joly Germine, the self-proclaimed "king" of the 400 Mawozo gang, pleaded guilty in a U.S. federal court to smuggling arms[20] such as "AK-47s, AR-15s, an M4 carbine rifle, an M1A rifle, and a .50 caliber rifle, described by the ATF as a military weapon," into Haiti, piloting the operation from a Haitian prison.[21]

See also



  1. ^ Walker, Summer (October 2022). Gangs of Haiti: Expansion, power and an escalating crisis (PDF). Geneva: Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. pp. 4, 17–18. Retrieved 30 September 2023.
  2. ^ Faiola, Anthony (17 October 2021). "American missionaries and family members kidnapped in Haiti by '400 Mawozo' gang, groups say". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 17 October 2021. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  3. ^ Méheut, Constant; Abi-Habib, Maria (17 October 2021). "Gang suspected in kidnapping of missionaries is among the country's most dangerous". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Up to 17 U.S. missionaries and family kidnapped in Haiti - media". Reuters. 17 October 2021. Archived from the original on 17 October 2021. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Haiti kidnap: 400 Mawozo accused of US missionary kidnap". BBC News. 18 October 2021. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  6. ^ a b Berger, Miriam (18 October 2021). "Who is 400 Mawozo, the Haitian gang accused of kidnapping American missionaries?". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 18 October 2021. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  7. ^ Thomas, Gessika; Ellsworth, Brian (21 October 2021). Bell, Alistair (ed.). "Haiti's 400 Mawozo rose from petty crime gang to major kidnapping ring". Reuters. Archived from the original on 21 October 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  8. ^ Coto, Dánica; Sanon, Evens (17 October 2021). "Gang with past abductions blamed for kidnapping missionaries". AP NEWS. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  9. ^ Gallón, Natalie; Rivers, Matt (16 December 2021). "Remaining missionaries kidnapped in Haiti released by gang, says justice minister". CNN.
  10. ^ Blinken, Antony J. (7 November 2022). "U.S. Department of State Announces Reward Offers for Information Leading to the Arrests and/or Convictions of Three Haitian Gang Leaders". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  11. ^ "US charges Haitian gang leaders over kidnappings, offers reward". Al-Jazeera. 7 November 2022. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  12. ^ Ellsworth, Brian (7 November 2022). O'Brien, Rosalba (ed.). "U.S. charges Haitian gang leaders for 2021 missionary kidnapping". Reuters. Archived from the original on 7 November 2022. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  13. ^ Spencer, Terry (15 November 2023). "Haitian gang leader added to FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for kidnapping and killing Americans". The Associated Press.
  14. ^ Sukheja, Bhavya (March 30, 2024). "US YouTuber YourFellowArab Kidnapped In Haiti While Trying To Interview Gang Leader". Retrieved March 30, 2024.
  15. ^ Shaukat, Rahman (31 March 2024). "YouTuber YourFellowArab Released Following Haiti Kidnapping". Game Rant. Retrieved 15 April 2024.
  16. ^ "YouTuber YourFellowArab allegedly released for no ransom after Haiti kidnapping". Dexerto. 30 March 2024. Retrieved 15 April 2024.
  17. ^ "Carnage at la Plaine du Cul-de-Sac: The survivors demand the support of the authorities" (PDF). National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH). 27 June 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  18. ^ "UN, US slap sanctions on four Haiti gang leaders". Reuters. 9 December 2023. Retrieved 26 March 2024.
  19. ^ "400 Mawozo". Insight Crime. 23 March 2022.
  20. ^ Kestler-D'Amours, Jillian (25 March 2024). "'A criminal economy': How US arms fuel deadly gang violence in Haiti". Al Jazeera.
  21. ^ "'King' of Violent Haitian Gang Pleads Guilty To Gun Smuggling and Money Laundering After Government's Case". Office of Public Affairs. U.S. Department of Justice. 1 February 2024.