(WASHINGTON) — The leader of a Haitian gang that allegedly kidnapped 16 U.S. citizens and killed one in another incident has been put on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, the agency announced Wednesday.
Vitel’Homme Innocent was indicted for allegedly leading a gang that helped in the 2021 armed hostage-taking of 16 Christian missionaries serving near Port-au-Price, Haiti.
Most were held captive for 61 days before escaping. The group included five children, one as young as 8 months old at the time of the kidnapping.
Innocent was allegedly the leader of the The Kraze Barye gang, and the FBI is offering a $2 million reward for any information leading to his capture.
In another indictment unsealed in October 2023, Innocent is alleged to have participated in a second hostage-taking incident in which one U.S. citizen was killed.
Officials say Marie Odette Franklin was allegedly shot and killed by the gang members. Her husband was allegedly taken into captivity and held at an undisclosed location in Haiti. While Jean Franklin was in captivity, Vitel’Homme allegedly participated in ransom negotiations in exchange for his release.
On Oct. 28, 2022, Jean Franklin was released from captivity following ransom payments made to the gang on behalf of his family.
“Haitian gang leader Vitel’Homme Innocent is the 532nd fugitive added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and killing of U.S. citizens in Haiti,” said Jeffrey B. Veltri, Special Agent in Charge at the FBI’s Miami Field Office.
“The State Department is offering a reward of up to $2,000,0000 for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction. Our resolve to bring him to account for his alleged crimes will not waver. I want to thank the State Departments Diplomatic Security Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for their close cooperation and partnership investigating these cases,” Veltri said in a statement.
Innocent is believed to be in Haiti, but has other ties to other Caribbean countries, the FBI said.
“With the addition of Vitel’Homme Innocent to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, our government has sent a strong message that we will work together to guarantee the capture and prosecution of any individual set on causing harm to our civilians and our nation,” said Phillippe Furstenberg, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), Miami Field Office.
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