Haiti police: Killers targeted moto-taxi drivers

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Associated Press

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 10:36 PM

THOMAZEAU, Haiti (AP) — Detectives have recovered the remains of at least 10 people in a remote area apparently used by a gang to execute moto-taxi drivers it robbed, a police official said Wednesday.

Investigators from the Haitian National Police and the United Nations police division found the remains in a cactus-studded no-man's-land near Thomazeau, a town northeast of Port-au-Prince and west of Lake Azuei. The bodies were in different states of decomposition.

Pierre Lesley Charles, police commissioner for the nearby district of Croix-des-Bouquets, told The Associated Press that police learned of the killings after one moto-taxi driver escaped from the gang as it killed two other drivers.

Charles said the gang stopped drivers as they passed through the rugged area, then strangled them or hacked them to death with machetes and stole their motorcycles.

He said police initially found the two bodies reported by the escaping driver.

Police took three people into custody, including a 20-year-old named Wilner Joseph who cooperated with police and led detectives to the desert-like area Wednesday, where more bodies were discovered, Charles said.

Police and U.N. investigators photographed skulls and clothing as they recorded the GPS coordinates of the remains.

Carmin Baptiste, an investigative magistrate for Croix-des-Bouquets who was at the site, said the area has a reputation for lawlessness because of a scant police presence. He said there could be up to 12 bodies.

"This is a place for execution," he said.

Haiti has only 10,000 police officers in a country of 10 million people, and a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti since 2004 has helped the small force with criminal investigations.

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