HomeNewsThe Rise of Haiti's Violent Rural Gangs
NEWS

The Rise of Haiti's Violent Rural Gangs

CARIBBEAN / 3 AUG 2022 BY ALESSANDRO FORD EN

A rural gang is shooting police officers and kidnapping en masse in Haiti’s northern regions, displaying tactics more commonly used by urban armed groups concentrated in the distant capital of Port-au-Prince.

Haitian authorities launched an operation against the Kokorat San Ras gang on August 1, killing three members and wounding six more in several remote villages within the Artibonite department, according to a police statement published by local press. The operation rescued nearly 30 victims who had been kidnapped by the gang on July 29.

Days earlier, on July 28, Kokorat San Ras had ambushed a police patrol and killed one officer, while on July 31 the gang reportedly opened fire on a carload of Education Ministry employees.

SEE ALSO: Police Executions and Burning Courthouses: Haiti’s Judiciary Under Assault

All three incidents took place along a stretch of National Road No. 5, a key highway connecting Haiti’s northern seaports to the departmental capital of Gonaïves. Security forces have vowed to re-establish control in gang-controlled territories.

“A second phase is planned to liberate the villages of la Plate, Odigé, Bera and Pendu ... it will last as long as necessary for the eradication of this gang from this zone,” the police said in an August 1 statement.

It is a familiar message. In January, Kokorat San Ras kidnapped a busload of almost 60 people. Police quickly freed the hostages, but have since been unable to dismantle the group despite a string of arrests in January, February, and March.

InSight Crime Analysis

The sudden rise of Kokorat San Ras highlights a key development in Haiti’s underworld: the emergence of brutal rural gangs.

Though banditry is common in the Haitian countryside, Kokorat San Ras operates on a different level. The gang first made national headlines in late 2021, when it threatened a local judge, before murdering two of his family members.

SEE ALSO: G9 vs. G-PEP - The Two Gang Alliances Tearing Haiti Apart

Local media report the gang controls sections of both National Roads No. 5 and 1, extorting and ransoming cargo and passengers with impunity. It also wields at least some high-powered weaponry. In January, police seized one of their own Galil assault rifles from a Kokorat San Ras gangster.  

In fact, the group is reminiscent of the early 400 Mawozo, now Haiti’s single largest gang. It too emerged in the countryside and focused on controlling the national roads. And 400 Mawozo also employed mass kidnappings in Haiti.

However, just as 400 Mawozo’s brash crimes sparked a heavy police crackdown, Kokorat San Ras is also increasingly drawing the attention of security forces. A key lieutenant in the gang, alias "Meyer," was shot by police in January, while local authorities have now deployed patrols on key stretches of road.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 26 APR 2021

Puerto Rico is seeing a surge in cocaine seizures, indicating that drug flows are being reactivated after months of dormancy…

CARIBBEAN / 13 MAY 2022

Jamaica's government has signaled plans to incorporate some new tricks to raise the cost of engaging in lottery scamming, having…

HAITI / 26 MAR 2021

Officials in Haiti are calling on authorities to break up a group of disaffected, violent police officers that has in…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…