CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – Wealthy businessman, Clifford Brandt, was found to have escaped from the newly-built prison in Croix-des-Bouquets, Sunday, after a dozen or so armed men broke into the facility releasing dozens of prisoners. Brandt was imprisoned on October 22, 2012 for the kidnapping-ransom of Nicolas and Coralie Moscoso and was described to be head of the most powerful kidnapping syndicate in the Caribbean.
Information circulating in the streets and web say that police were informed of a meeting before the breakout where a plan was devised to free Brandt. There is also other information that says Brandt walked out of the prison hours before it was raided by gunmen – the subsequent action only as a cover for his disappearance.
None the less, weaknesses in police action are described. Firstly, it is said that the possibility of such a brazen escaped had been minimized by police, even though many civil society had warned vigilance against such action. Secondly, the disappearance of Brandt made the rounds nearly four hours after the attack on the prison.
Substantiated facts say that just before 11:00 AM Sunday, armed and unidentified individuals stormed the penitentiary in Croix-des-Bouquets where Brandt, and another high-profile criminal, Sonson Lafamilia were supposedly being held. Both Brandt and Lafamilia are head of kidnapping-murder gangs and very close to President Michel Martelly.
Information circulating in the streets suggest that Brandt had reached the Dominican Republic where he may have found passage to Jamaica.
Haitian police issued a 1,000,000 HTG ($22,727 [US]) reward for information leading to his capture.
Clifford Brandt poses a serious threat to opponents of the Martelly administration according to one political analysts who spoke with The Sentinel on the condition of anonymity.
It is believed, to this analyst, that Brandt, who is the leader of a major kidnapping-murder syndicate, would likely have had official assistance in escaping. The analysts made notice that Brandt’s #2 in crime is Marc-Arthur Phebe, head of National Palace security and was released from prison, along with other police officers arrested in Brandt’s ring, in 2013. Brandt also named the son of President Michel Martelly the #6 in his gang, according to sources.
The analyst said Brandt now provides a force for intimidation and violence against opponents and opposing candidates of the Martelly administration, hoping to hold long overdue elections.
The possibility of the prison breakout and escape of Brandt could also be a means for the renewal of the United Nations peacekeeping presence in Haiti. The analyst did not miss the point of bringing notice to the unusually steep uptick in insecurity in Haiti, as the October renewal deadline for the highly unpopular force approaches.
Human rights organizations in Haiti have called for public vigilance in the case of Clifford Brandt. Several irregular actions in the case and the likelihood of the National Palace wanting Brandt released was a point of concern. – Heiti Sentinel