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The feared mob boss setting lawless Haiti ablaze: How ruthless ex-cop nicknamed ‘Barbecue’ over claims he burns rivals alive has triggered chaos by trying to oust country’s PM as his gang breaks 4,000 criminals out of jail


Violence has gripped Haiti after armed gangs released thousands of inmates from the capital’s main prison and ‘massacred’ dozens, with the government declaring a state of emergency as police struggle to contain the rampaging criminal mobs.

The chaos seems to have been largely orchestrated by a feared mob boss known as ‘Barbecue’ – a former cop turned gangster who has run the streets of Port-au-Prince for years.

The powerful gang leader, whose real name is Jimmy Cherizier, has called on criminal groups to unite to overthrow prime minister Ariel Henry, who has been overseas trying to rally support to stabilise his country’s dire security situation.

Cherizier has claimed responsibility for the latest surge in attacks, and said his goal is to capture Haiti’s police chief and government ministers and prevent Henry’s return to the Caribbean nation.

Barbecue’s threats will have struck fear into the hearts of many Haitians, with his reputation for burning people alive – something he has long denied – preceding him.

The former elite police officer is now the boss of a feared federation of gangs called the ‘G-9 Family and Allies’, formed around 2020 and thought to be better armed than the country’s official police force.

Pictured: Leader of the 'G-9 and Family' gang, Jimmy 'Barbecue' Cherizier, raises a rifle with his gang members after giving a speech in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 22, 2021

Pictured: Leader of the ‘G-9 and Family’ gang, Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier, raises a rifle with his gang members after giving a speech in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 22, 2021

A demonstrator holds up the flag of Haiti during protests against the country's prime minister on March 1

A demonstrator holds up the flag of Haiti during protests against the country’s prime minister on March 1

Bystanders gather around the bodies of alleged gang members that were set on fire by a mob after they were stopped by police while travelling in a vehicle in the Canape Vert area of Port-au-Prince on April 24, 2023

Bystanders gather around the bodies of alleged gang members that were set on fire by a mob after they were stopped by police while travelling in a vehicle in the Canape Vert area of Port-au-Prince on April 24, 2023

Former police officer Jimmy 'Barbecue' Cherizier, leader of the 'G9' coalition, leads a march surrounded by his security against Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry, September 19, 2023

Former police officer Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier, leader of the ‘G9’ coalition, leads a march surrounded by his security against Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry, September 19, 2023

Haiti was plunged deeper into chaos over the weekend after a deadly gang assault on the capital's main prison allowed thousands of inmates to escape. Pictured: A man drives past a burning barricade in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 1

Haiti was plunged deeper into chaos over the weekend after a deadly gang assault on the capital’s main prison allowed thousands of inmates to escape. Pictured: A man drives past a burning barricade in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 1

The Caribbean country's government declared a state of emergency on Sunday - as well as a night-time curfew - in a bid to regain control amid a surge in violence

The Caribbean country’s government declared a state of emergency on Sunday – as well as a night-time curfew – in a bid to regain control amid a surge in violence

Cherizier describes his men as a ‘revolutionary force’ which aims to wipe out the bourgeoisie and improve conditions for the poor, but his reign of violence has seen mass killings in some of Haiti’s most poverty-stricken areas.

He was, at one point, shot in the chest, narrowly avoiding death, and surrounds himself with heavily-armed masked thugs for protection.

Barbecue’s men are armed with high-powered rifles and are said to have endless supplies of ammunition – ‘cartridges by the bucket’ as one officer described it.

He is accused of ordering a series of bloody killings in recent years, and faces sanctions from the UN and the United States over ‘threatening the police, security or stability of Haiti’.

As violence once again surges in Haiti, Cherizier this week warned locals to keep children from going to school to ‘avoid collateral damages’ as he and his men seek to bring down the government.

It all comes after President Moise, who Cherizier’s G9 gang allegedly allied with, was assassinated in his mansion, a killing officially blamed on Colombian mercenaries, but which many suspect was ordered by his rivals.

Prime minister Henry took over and there has been civil unrest in Haiti in ever since, with protests erupting over his repeated stalling of general elections, which haven’t happened in almost a decade.

Cherizier was accused of leading several massacres during Moïse’s term as president, with the then-leader failing to put a stop to them.

Former police officer Jimmy 'Barbecue' Cherizier, leader of the 'G9' coalition, and speaks during a press tour of the La Saline shanty area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti November 3, 2021

Former police officer Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier, leader of the ‘G9’ coalition, and speaks during a press tour of the La Saline shanty area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti November 3, 2021

Pictured: Haiti's late president Jovenel Moïse speaks in 2017 (file photo). Moïse was assassinated on July 7 2021 , a killing officially blamed on Colombian mercenaries, but which many suspect was ordered by his rivals

Pictured: Haiti’s late president Jovenel Moïse speaks in 2017 (file photo). Moïse was assassinated on July 7 2021 , a killing officially blamed on Colombian mercenaries, but which many suspect was ordered by his rivals

Haiti's prime minister Ariel Henry, who has been in Kenya trying to rally support to stabilise his country's dire security situation

Haiti’s prime minister Ariel Henry, who has been in Kenya trying to rally support to stabilise his country’s dire security situation

Many of G-9’s attacks are thought to have been supported by state actors, including a 2018 attack in La Saline, a 2019 attack in Bel-Air, and a 2020 attack in Cité Soleil. 

The government’s powerlessness was again demonstrated in September 2022 when the G-9 blocked the entrance to the vital Varreux fuel terminal, which supplies most of the oil products in Haiti. 

November 2022 saw another attack by the G-9, this time on the Source-Matelas neighbourhood.

The massacre in the shanty town of Source-Matelas was sparked by the public execution of a local man called Jephté who gang leaders accused of being a police informant. 

Pictured: A member of the G-9 gang joins a march to demand justice for slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au- Prince, July 26, 2021

Pictured: A member of the G-9 gang joins a march to demand justice for slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au- Prince, July 26, 2021

A horrific image was circulated on social media to intimidate others showing the victim seconds before his death, bound hand and foot inside a truck tyre, a petrol canister beside him.

In an interview, a 16-year-old girl told MailOnline how she was gang raped by three men whose mob marched her father and brother from their home to be murdered.

The girl – named only as Anne for her safety – said the attack happened during a massacre on November 28, when gangs of men raided houses and raped and murdered those hiding inside.

This screen grab taken from AFPTV shows tires on fire near the main prison of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 3, 2024

This screen grab taken from AFPTV shows tires on fire near the main prison of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 3, 2024

An injured man waits to be treated at a health center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 29

An injured man waits to be treated at a health center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 29 

Such attacks continued into 2023. Between February 28 and March 5, the community of Bel-Air in the capital saw armed clashes between the G-9 gang and the Bel-Air gang in which 148 people were killed or went missing. 

More violence in Cité Soleil earlier last April saw nearly 70 people killed.

Each attack saw gangs enter impoverished neighbourhoods in the capital and unleash death on the population.

Despite his violent exploits, Cherizier cultivates a ‘Robin Hood’ image on social media – describing himself as a community leader who gives out cash when people are in need, clears garbage from the streets and protects people from rival gangs. 

He pitches himself as a freedom fighter for Haiti, and perhaps even its next leader.

‘The people are in need of a leader and are seeking one,’ Cherizier told Vice World News in 2021.

‘I am talking about the misery of the poor people. I am talking about my country that doesn’t have hospitals, professional schools, medical clinics. 

‘People are sleeping next to pigs. If they call me a revolutionary for that kind of thing, yes, I am.’ 

Cherizier has previously denied any connection to the massacres, telling reporters in 2019 that his enemies have linked him to the killings in a bid for revenge. 

‘I would never massacre people in the same social class as me,’ Cherizier declared. 

Barbecue, whose real name is Jimmy Cherizier, sits at his house during an interview with Associated Press, in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 24, 2019

Barbecue, whose real name is Jimmy Cherizier, sits at his house during an interview with Associated Press, in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 24, 2019

Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue, a former police officer who heads a gang coalition known as "G9 Family and Allies, leads a march to demand justice for slain Haitian President Jovenel in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au- Prince, Haiti Monday, July 26, 2021

Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue, a former police officer who heads a gang coalition known as ‘G9 Family and Allies, leads a march to demand justice for slain Haitian President Jovenel in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au- Prince, Haiti Monday, July 26, 2021

He told the AP he takes inspiration from late dictator Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, who ruled Haiti with a bloody brutality as ‘president for life’ from 1957 to 1971.

‘I was born next door to La Saline. I live in the ghetto. I know what ghetto life is.’ 

He said he got the nickname Barbecue as a child because his mother was a street vendor who sold fried chicken, not because he is accused of setting people on fire. 

Despite his years-long campaign of terror, he has maintained that he wants the best for his country: ‘I am just fighting for our upcoming generation in 10, 20, 30 years for them not to carry guns like us.’ 



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