Haiti: UN pushes on with anti-gang crackdown; 59 suspects arrested so far

Haiti: UN pushes on with anti-gang crackdown; 59 suspects arrested so far

United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti have arrested 59 suspected gangsters since they launched a crack-down on armed gangs at the beginning of the month in one of the violence-ridden country’s most dangerous areas, the Cité Soleil quarter of Port-au-Prince, the capital.

As a result of the clean-up sweeps, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) earlier this week was able to use the sports field in the Bélékou area of Cité Soleil to deliver 5,000 litres of drinking water, 700 meals and medical and dental care to local residents.

“We will continue these operations for a better future and for bringing security to the territory of the country, which will allow significant progress and lead to a stable society,” MINUSTAH military spokesperson Major Laurie Arellano told a news conference in Port-au-Prince yesterday.

“We will continue to pursue the gangs who dig ditches to prevent the free movement of peacekeepers in order to commit their acts of banditry against the local population and impede their access to public services,” she added.

In its latest operation 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, arrested 21 suspected gangsters in Bélékou, set up a new control post and searched the house of the presumed gang leader, Amaral Duclonat, who escaped.

“We weren’t able to arrest Amaral, but one thing is sure: he won’t be able to harm the population and his gang network has been dismantled,” Maj. Arellano said. “Amaral is a fugitive and we will continue to look for him to bring him to justice for the harm he has caused the Haitian people.”

She noted that this month’s Security Council resolution extending the mission’s mandate called on it to keep up the pace of operations to bring a climate of security to the capital. “Our objective is to arrest the criminals, confiscate their arms and take control of the areas and houses they use to carry out their cats of banditry and attack the peacekeepers,” she added.

Over the weekend, UN peacekeepers picked up gang leader named Johnny Pierre Louis, also known as Ti Bazil, the presumed perpetrator of numerous murders and other bloody crimes, during a sweep through the Key Boyle residential section of Cité Soleil. He often acted under the orders of an ex-gang chief named Evens, whom MINUSTAH recently ousted from the Boston area of Cité Soleil. Evens escaped but the UN has turned his headquarters into a free medical clinic.