United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti have arrested a gang leader blamed for several murders as part of their ongoing operations to clean up the notoriously crime-ridden Cité Soleil quarter of Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Johnny Pierre Louis, also known as Ti Bazil, “the presumed perpetrator of numerous murders and other bloody crimes,” was picked up on Sunday night during a patrol in the Key Boyle residential of section Cité Soleil, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in a statement.
“His arrest represents one more step towards re-establishing security, peace and stability, conditions necessary for the development of Cité Soleil,” it added, noting that he often acted under the orders of an ex-gang chief named Evens, whom MINUSTAH recently ousted from the Boston area of Cité Soleil.
Ti Bazil is believed to have been involved in the “physical elimination” of two families participating in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and to have forced local residents to take part in his criminal activities. He also instigated the digging of trenches in Cité Soleil to prevent MINUSTAH patrols from circulating.
MINUSTAH, set up in 2004 to help re-establish peace in the impoverished Caribbean country after an insurgency forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile, has launched several anti-gang operations in recent weeks. Earlier this month, a 700-troop-strong operation by the mission’s Brazilian contingent cleaned up Boston and transformed Evens’ former headquarters into a free medical clinic.
The mission has reported that armed criminal gangs are forcing children to take part in their operations, often under threat of killing them, and using them as human shields in confrontations with the police.