Tag Archive for: fraud



George Santos steps down from Congressional committees.

Memphis: 3 EMTs fired, 7th officer disciplined in Nichols case.

Video: Trump pleaded the 5th over 400 times in deposition.




George Santos steps down from Congressional committees

Rep. George Santos (R-NY, alias Anthony Zabrovsky, alias George Devolder, alias Anthony Devolder, alias Kitara Ravache) has just performed his first decent act since entering Congress by stepping down from his committee assignments. Since his election, Santos has been exposed for innumerable lies about his past and been implicated in various crimes including theft and fraud. Of most immediate concern are accusations that he may have violated campaign finance laws.

Despite the ever-growing number of scandals and credible accusations, Santos received two Congressional committee assignments, the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology committee. Today, it was reported that Santos told fellow Republicans in a closed-door meeting that he would step down from the assignments to avoid being a “distraction”.

Santos has not yet released a public statement on his resignations. Several of his Republican colleagues have told reporters that they thought Santos had done the right thing for the party. However, many are still calling on him to resign from Congress entirely.

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Memphis: 3 EMTs fired, 7th officer disciplined in Nichols case

Yesterday we learned a 6th Memphis police officer, Preston Hemphill, had been placed on paid administrative leave due to his involvement in the fatal police confrontation with Tyre Nichols. Hemphill was the only white officer disciplined so far in the matter. Five other officers, all Black, have been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other charges. Later in the day, we learned that a 7th officer, so far unnamed, had also been relieved of duty in connection with the case.

Additionally, three Memphis Fire Department EMTs who attended the scene have been fired. MFD EMTs Robert Long and JaMicheal Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker had previously been suspended pending investigation. The three arrived at the scene when Nichols was already handcuffed on the ground and slumped against a squad car. While Whitaker remained in the engine, Long and Sandridge stepped out but made no attempt to assess or aid Nichols. It wasn’t until 27 minutes after they arrived that another ambulance crew transported Nichols to a hospital.

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Video: Trump pleaded the 5th over 400 times in deposition

CBS has obtained video (37 mins long) of an August 2022 deposition during which former President Trump was questioned by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Last year, James brought a $250 million civil lawsuit against Trump, his children Ivanka, Eric and Don, Jr. and the Trump Organization alleging a “staggering” number of over-valued assets. James says that Trump and his co-defendants routinely inflated the values of properties they owned in order to obtain loans and other business advantages.

In addition to the $250 million in penalties, the suit seeks to bar the Trumps and their organization from transacting business in New York for five years.

Reading a prepared statement at the start of the proceeding, Trump characterized the suit as “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” and James as “a renegade and out of control prosecutor”. Before questioning commenced, Trump described the entire proceeding as “very unfair.” He then went on to plead the 5th over 400 times as he was asked about various financial dealings.

‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the 5th amendment?’ – Trump referring to Hillary Clinton

On several occasions during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly took his opponent Hillary Clinton to task over the fact that her staffers repeatedly pleaded the 5th in inquiries about the private e-mail server Clinton used while serving as Secretary of State. Trump repeatedly asked why anyone would plead the 5th if they’d done nothing wrong?

Following his deposition in August, Trump stated, “I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the 5th amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question.”

“When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated witch hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice,” Trump explained.

During the deposition itself, Trump admitted, “Anyone in my position not taking the 5th amendment would be a fool, an absolute fool”.

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With egg prices soaring, more try to smuggle them from Mexico.

Rep. “George Santos” denies performing drag, stealing money for disabled veteran’s dog.

US, Germany in standoff over tanks for Ukraine



With egg prices soaring, more try to smuggle them from Mexico

The recent outbreak of avian flu has necessitated the culling of over 43 million egg-laying hens in the US. This has created a shortfall in egg production, just as demand spiked over the holidays. Most shoppers will have noticed a steep climb in egg prices at the grocery store. A carton of a dozen eggs now averages $4.25 in the US, up from $1.79 a year ago. In some urban markets, a dozen eggs can be more than $10. Some businesses, such as bakeries, have had to raise prices on baked good to offset the cost. Others are actually losing money on products they sell, keeping prices low to maintain their customers and hoping that prices will come down soon.

Customs officials have also seen more Americans attempting to smuggle in cheaper eggs from Mexico. Bringing certain agricultural products, including eggs and live poultry, over the border is strictly prohibited as these imports can spread disease and pests. The fine for being caught smuggling these items is $10,000. If you declare the items, border agents will seize and destroy them, but spare you the fine.

Despite the risks, Americans continue taking the chance. In Ciudad Juarez, a busy border crossing near El Paso, TX, a 30-count carton eggs is about $3.40, while a 12-count carton at a local Walmart in El Paso is $5.44

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Rep. “George Santos” denies performing drag, stealing money for disabled veteran’s dog 

“Kitara Ravache”, aka George Santos, aka Anthony Devolder, aka George Devolder, aka Anthony Zabrovsky.

We already knew of at least three aliases used by new Rep. George Santos: Anthony Zabrovsky, George Devolder, and Anthony Devolder. This week, we learned of a fourth – Kitara Ravache. This, according to people who knew Santos in Brazil, was Santos’ stage name when he performed in a drag competition for Miss Gay Rio de Janeiro

Although he was married to a woman until a few weeks before he declared his candidacy the first time he ran in 2020, Santos now says he is openly gay. Nevertheless, he has joined in with fellow Republicans taking a hard line against transgender identity and supported Florida’s “Don’t say gay” law which bans discussion of LGBT issues in classrooms. 

Despite numerous independent sources confirming Santos’ drag-performing past, and photographic evidence, Santos has denied ever performing drag. According to the Brazilian sources, Santos wasn’t much of a performer anyway. He participated in the Miss Gay Rio competition twice and didn’t make it past the qualifying round either time.

“Anthony Devolder” stole $3000 donated to save a disabled veteran’s dog 

George Santos, under the name “Anthony Devolder”, once ran a charity called Friends of Pets United. In 2016, disabled homeless veteran Richard Osthoff of New Jersey reached out to “Devolder” to help raise money for a life-saving operation for Sapphire, Osthoff’s pit mix.

The campaign met its $3000 goal and Osthoff thought Sapphire was as good as saved. But that’s when Santos started giving him the run-around. First, Santos told Osthoff to take Sapphire to a vet in Queens, NY, that Santos claimed to have “credit” with. That vet told Osthoff that Sapphire’s growth was inoperable. This contradicted what Osthoff’s New Jersey vet had told him.

A link shared by Osthoff to the GoFundMe set up for Sapphire by George Santos (“Anthony Devolder”).

When Osthoff asked Santos to pay the money to his own vet so Sapphire could get her operation, Santos refused. Santos said that since Osthoff “didn’t do things my way,” Santos put the GoFundMe money from Sapphire’s fundraiser into the charity to use “for other dogs.” 

Michael Boll, a fellow vet and former police sergeant, attempted to intervene and contacted Santos on Osthoff’s behalf. Boll found Santos similarly uncooperative. Santos soon broke off contact altogether and Osthoff never saw a penny of the money donated by his family and friends. Sapphire sadly died in 2017.

Santos, predictably, denies any involvement and even denies knowing Boll or Osthoff. This is despite ample screenshots of Osthoff’s text exchanges and other communications with “Anthony Devolder”, which you can see here.

When told of Santos’ denial, Osthoff said Santos should “go to hell”. Osthoff said that if he spoke to Santos now, he would ask: “Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?”. He then added, “He’d probably lie about that.”



US, Germany hesitant to send tanks to Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has been a hot topic at this year’s Davos conference of world leaders. The representatives of multiple countries in attendance have increased their pledges of military and other supplies in Ukraine. Fighting has recently intensified in Eastern Ukraine, raising fears that Russia may be redoubling its war efforts. Reports suggest that Russia is planning to call up a new wave of 500,000 conscripts, having already called up 300,000. The Kremlin is also moving more advanced weapons systems and other military assets to its border with Ukraine. 

The US has so far given more than any other country to help the Ukrainians fend off the Russian advance. US military personnel are now training Ukrainian soldiers to used advanced weapons systems in Germany and Oklahoma

Although Germany has sent humanitarian aid and safety equipment, Europe’s only superpower has been more hesitant to send heavy military equipment to the Ukrainians. Not only this, Germany has not granted export licenses to other countries who would like to send Ukraine German-made equipment.

Earlier this week, Germany’s defense minister resigned, apparently due to rampant criticism of the standoffish approach. But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been equally reluctant to make any firm commitments. Now, the US and Ukraine’s other allies are piling pressure on Schulz to authorize the transfer of German-made Leopard tanks to the Ukrainians. Leopard tanks are considered state-of-the-art, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking for them since the war began. 

However, Scholz appears reluctant to authorize the transfer of the tanks, but has hinted he might be willing if the US sent Ukraine its own tanks, the Abrams. So far, the Biden administration hasn’t agreed to send any Abrams tanks, claiming they would be too difficult for the Ukrainians to maintain.

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Questions over Rep. George Santos’ ties to Ponzi scheme.

CA braces for more floods this week; 19 already dead.

Saudi academic may get death penalty for having a Twitter account.



Questions over Rep. George Santos’ involvement in Ponzi scheme

Newly-seated House member George Santos (R-NY) already has a proven track record as a liar, having been caught in lies about his work and education history and his family background among many other things. There’s some question about whether George Santos is even his real name. At the very least, he seems to have a growing number of aliases.

The extent of Santos’ lying is so great that even several of his fellow New York Republicans have called on him to step down. But the Republican contingent in the House has largely circled the wagons to defend him, or at least his seat.

With a tight majority in the House, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy facing opposition from within his own party, the GOP can hardly afford to send Santos packing, despite his embarrassing antics. Rep. James Comer (R-TN), the new House Oversight Committee Chairman, underscored this yesterday. Comer admitted that Santos was “a bad guy”, but indicated he wouldn’t lose his seat for lying. However, Comer said that Santos would be removed if he’d violated campaign finance laws.

Ponzi, puppet, or both? 

Revelations of Santos’ previous prevarications raised questions about a drastic and mysterious change in his fortunes in the last couple of years. In 2020, the first time Santos ran for Congress, he listed no assets and a salary of $55,000 in his financial disclosure. During his 2022 run, Santos declared assets worth between $2.6 million and $11.25 million.

Santos may have run afoul of campaign finance laws with a $700,000 donation to his campaign from one of his companies, the Devolder Organization. The only clients of this firm that have been traced all happen to be major donors to Santos’ campaign. Some believe Santos set up a sham organization to get around campaign donation limits by laundering donations from his “clients”. 

More recently, news outlets uncovered another potential source of revenue for the Devolder Organization- outright fraud. In 2020 and 2021, Santos worked at Harbor City Capital, an organization that the Securities and Exchange Commission dubbed a “classic Ponzi scheme”. Harbor City Capital was selling fake bonds and promissory notes and paying off investors with money from other investors. The scam netted around $17 million and defrauded over 100 investors. Here you can see a Twitter thread where an investor confronts Santos (under the alias “George Devolder”) about the scam.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Santos didn’t report his Harbor City income on his 2020 financial disclosure.


California braces for more floods this week, with 19 already dead

Communities all over California are cleaning up from recent floods while simultaneously preparing for more. So far, 19 people have been confirmed dead in the storms since Christmas. None of these storms has been very strong individually, but the unrelenting succession of them has made already soaked areas more vulnerable to floods and mudslides from even the slightest rain. This is in part due to drought-parched ground that can’t readily absorb water and the loss of tree cover due to wildfires.

Over the weekend, about 25 million people were under flood watches. President Biden also issued a federal disaster declaration to free up funds for California’s recovery effort. What is passing over the state now is the 8th successive storm system in less than 3 weeks, and a ninth is on its way this week.

Some drought relief, but not a game changer

Much of California has been experiencing drought conditions for years. The recent storms and accumulation of water and snowpack have offered at least a partial reprieve. Before the rains, 27% of California was under “extreme drought” (the second-highest level of drought while 71% was under “severe drought” (the third highest). Now, less than 1% of the state is experiencing “extreme drought” and only 46% is under “severe drought”. 

Even more critically, the state has about 226% of its normal snowpack for this time of year. It’s even higher than the normal amount for April, when the snowpack is typically greatest.

While this is no doubt welcome, and certainly a silver lining for all the recent storm clouds, the state’s drought woes are far from over. Experts say that several seasons of 120% to 200% of normal rain and snowfall will be needed before the drought in the West will pass. The recent rains have also been confined to the area between the coast and the Sierra Nevada mountains. This will not benefit the West’s most important reservoirs, Lake Meade and Lake Powell, which are continuing to dry up.

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Saudi academic may get death penalty for using Twitter

Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia are asking that a professor receive the death penalty for his use of social media. Awad Al-Qarni, a 65-year-old reformist law professor, is accused of having a Twitter and WhatsApp account and of using them to share his opinions which are “hostile to the kingdom”.

Having a Twitter account is not formally prohibited in Saudi Arabia. However, it seems even having a Twitter account can itself be an offense if a user doesn’t support the regime. In August last year, PhD student and mother Salma al-Shehab received a 34-year sentence for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting posts from dissidents and activists. Later in the same month, another Saudi woman, Noura al-Qahtani, received a 45-years prison sentence for using Twitter “to tear the social fabric”.

Under the increasingly dictatorial rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom is attempting to project an image that it is keeping up with the modern world by embracing technology, cutting edge infrastructure, and making strong inroads into international sports with its LIV Golf league. The kingdom has invested heavily in tech companies like Meta (Facebook’s parent company), and even Twitter itself.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is Twitter’s second-largest investor and a major backer of Elon Musk’s recent takeover bid. Musk’s deal with his major investors gives them “access to confidential information about the social media platform”. Members of Congress and human rights watchdogs fear that this deal has made it easier for Saudi Arabia to identify the holders of dissident accounts on the platform.

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NY AG sues Trump Org, Trump and 3 Trump kids for tax, loan fraud. US charges 48 people in $250 million pandemic relief scam. Putin calls up more troops for Ukraine, makes nuclear threat.



NY AG sues Trump Org, Trump and 3 Trump kids for tax, loan fraud

After a three-year investigation, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced today that the state is suing the Trump Organization, Donald Trump himself and his three children Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka for fraud. The suit alleges Trump overvalued properties to obtain favorable bank loans and undervalued properties to obtain tax benefits. James wants to ban the Trumps and the Trump Org. from transacting any property business in the state for 5 years. She’s also suing to recoup at least $250 million dollars of fraudulent gains by Trump and his business.

James’ civil suit is separate from a criminal probe by New York City Attorney Alvin Bragg. Bragg is investigating the Trump Org. for possible criminal violations of the tax code. James is assisting Bragg with his investigation.

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US charges 48 people in $250 million pandemic relief scam

Federal attorneys have charged 48 people in Minnesota in connection with a scam to steal $250 million in pandemic aid meant to feed needy children. In 2020, the suspects opened a sham organization calling itself Feeding Our Future. Its purported mission was to deliver meals to need school children. Feeding Our Future set up more than 200 food delivery sites that they claimed were offering daily meals to tens of thousands of needy children across Minnesota.

However, these meals, and the children they were supposedly served to, were fake. The group registered “children” in the program using names from an online random name generator site. Rather than delivering meals, the group used roughly $250 million in federal funds on jewelry, cars, lavish travel and vacation properties abroad.

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Putin calls up more troops for Ukraine, makes nuclear threat

In a public address, Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated a “partial mobilization” of Russian males with military experience to fight in Ukraine. That amounts to about 300,000 reservist troops to reinforce the frontlines in Ukraine. This renewed push comes after a major Ukrainian offensive in the east and ahead of what promises to be a hard winter.

During his remarks, Putin also claimed, falsely, that NATO had made nuclear threats and that it had armed Ukraine with weapons to target the Russian homeland. Putin vowed to defend Russian territories “by any means necessary” and reiterated that Russia “has various weapons of mass destruction and, in some categories, more modern ones than those possessed by NATO countries”. He finished off by saying “this is no bluff”.

Russia now poised to annex four new regions of Ukraine through sham referendum votes this week. Putin’s threat to defend his territories “by any means necessary” will likely extend to those newly-annexed regions.

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Mississippi’s last abortion clinic files last ditch suit to halt ban. India: Bizarre case of imposter who impersonated wealthy man’s son for 40 years.




Mississippi’s last abortion clinic files last ditch suit to halt ban

Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Mississippi’s state attorney general has moved to certify the ruling and allow the state’s 2007 abortion ban “trigger law” to go into effect as of July 7. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO), which operates the state’s last functional abortion clinic, has filed a suit to prevent the trigger law from coming into force.

The suit cites the State Supreme Court precedent of Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice. In this 1998 case, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that while the state’s constitution does not protect “an explicit right to an abortion”, a person’s “autonomous bodily integrity is protected under the right to privacy” and “protected within the right of autonomous bodily integrity is an implicit right to have an abortion”.

No lower court in Mississippi can overrule State Supreme Court precedent. When JWHO filed this suit in Hinds County, all four Hinds County Chancery Court judges in the 5th District recused themselves. With none of these judges apparently willing to take on the case, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph appointed 4th District Judge Debbra K. Halford to preside over the case. Judge Halford has set the hearing for 10 a.m., July 5. 

Halford was appointed in 2005 by then-Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican. It seems likely that the State Supreme Court precedent will prevent Halford from rejecting JWHO’s request for an injunction against the trigger ban. Whatever her ruling, it’s likely the losing side will quickly appeal to the State Supreme Court. 

Do Mississippians have a right to privacy?

Importantly, the Mississippi constitution contains no express “right to privacy” except in specific circumstances. However, the Mississippi Supreme Court has observed the right to privacy as a matter of common law. Over the years, the court has made multiple rulings upholding the common law right to privacy other than the Pro-Choice Mississippi ruling.

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India: Bizarre case of imposter who impersonated wealthy man’s son for 40 years

In 1977, a 17-year-old boy disappeared as he walked home from school. That tragic occurrence set into motion a 41-year saga of deception and fraud that is still playing out to this day. 

Kanhaiya Singh, 17, was the only son of a wealthy landlord in India’s eastern Bihar state. In 1981, four years after Kanhaiya’s disappearance, his father, Kameshwar Singh, received word that his long-lost son had turned up and was begging in a nearby village. His health and eyesight then failing, Kameshwar Singh traveled to the village with some of his neighbors. Singh asked his neighbors to tell him whether or not this beggar was indeed his son. When they confirmed that he was, Kameshwar unhestitatingly took the young man home.

When word reached Singh’s wife and seven daughters that their only son and brother had returned, their joy soon turned to skepticism. Singh’s wife, Ramsakhi Devi, noted immediately that this newcomer lacked a prominent scar their son had. Ramsakhi Devi filed an impersonation charge against the young man. Local police even jailed him briefly before he made bail.

Believe it or not, that impersonation case only made its way into the courts this year, 41 years after Ramsakhi Devi filed her complaint. This is not atypical. Of the 50 million cases pending in India’s courts, more than 180,000 have been pending for 30 years or more.

Four decades of deceit

While on bail in those intervening decades, the young imposter, whose real name is Dayanand Gosain, continued to exploit his “adoptive” family. Kameshwar Singh, still unwilling to accept Gosain was not his son, continued affording him the privileges of the only son of a wealthy family. Gosain sold off over half of Singh’s landholdings. Curiously, most of the land ended up in the hands of the very neighbors who had identified him to Singh as his lost son. When Singh eventually died, Gosain inherited half of a nearly century-old mansion.

Gosain also obtained numerous false identity documents. He even produced a fake death certificate- for himself. When his long-awaited trial finally happened in April of this year, Gosain introduced in court a document saying that one Dayanand Gosain had died in 1981. The court was rightly unimpressed as the document was dated 2014.

The court found Gosain guilty of impersonation, cheating and conspiracy and sentenced him to seven years of “rigorous imprisonment”. 

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Colorado wildfire: Shed fire on cult land eyed as cause. Former Silicon Valley billionaire guilty of fraud in Theranos case. Haiti PM survives assassination attempt.



Colorado wildfire: Shed fire on cult land eyed as cause

On New Years Eve, a massive wildfire swept through part of Boulder County, CO, aided by high winds. The fire torched nearly 1000 homes and caused tens of thousands of residents to flee. As of now, two people remain missing and are presumed dead.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. Video is circulating online of what appears to be a burning shed, shortly before the wind carried the fire across the neighborhood. The burning shed is on land belonging to a cult called the Twelve Tribes, a fundamentalist Christian group.

A near neighbor claims a member of the group told him that one of their domiciles had caught fire. Illegal fires have previously been noted on the cult’s lands. But it’s unclear at this point whether the shed was the source of the wildfire or a casualty of it. The Sheriff’s department confirms that the fire did start in that area, but the cause was still under investigation. 

Twelve Tribes started in Tennessee in the 1970s. Despite being relatively low key, the cult has since spread across the U.S. and even taken root abroad. A 2018 article from the Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Twelve Tribes group in damning terms. “On first impression,” the article says, “its communes and hippie-vibed restaurants and cafes can seem quaint and bucolic. But beneath the surface lies a tangle of doctrine that teaches its followers that slavery was “a marvelous opportunity” for Black people, who are deemed by the Bible to be servants of whites, and that homosexuals deserve no less than death”.

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Former Silicon Valley billionaire guilty of fraud in Theranos case

Elizabeth Holmes, formerly Silicon Valley’s youngest billionaire, has been found guilty on four counts of defrauding investors in her medical tech start-up Theranos. At just 19, Holmes founded Theranos with the claim she’d invented a process that could scan for 100s of diseases using just a few drops of blood. She raised billions of dollars from investors on that premise. The only problem was that the technology simply didn’t work.

Over months of testimony, the court heard from patients and healthcare practitioners who’d received misleading or falsified results from Theranos. However, the jury did not find Holmes guilty on charges of intentionally deceiving patients.

By sheer force of personality, Holmes bamboozled high level government and military officials into believing in her technology. When anyone asked how the technology worked, Holmes sidestepped, saying it was a ‘trade secret’.

Holmes’ trial is almost unique in that it’s rare to prosecute founders of a start-up in the event their business venture fails. Many consider her brazen as a case of the Valley’s “fake it till you make it” business culture gone too far. But it has opened up speculation as to how many other cases of Silicon Valley snake oil are waiting to be discovered.

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Haiti PM survives assassination attempt

Ariel Henry, who has been leading Haiti since the assassination of his predecessor Jovenel Moise last year, survived an assassination attempt himself over the weekend. According to Henry’s aides, gunmen targeted Henry during an independence day celebration at a church in the northern city of Gonaïves on Saturday. Online video shows the PM and his aides fleeing towards their vehicles, with intense gunfire heard in the background.

A group of “bandits and terrorists” are being blamed for the attack. Arrest warrants have been issued for several suspects.

In recent years, Haiti has been overtaken by several armed organized gangs. The gangs have a stranglehold on the country’s vital supply lines. They routinely set up blockades and seize goods and frequently take hostages for ransom. One group held a group of 17 missionaries hostage for two months late last year before they managed to escape.

Henry has pledged to crack down on Haiti’s gangs. The gang’s banditry has hindered recovery from a devastating quake last year and created a nationwide fuel shortage.

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