400 prisoners escaped in Haiti, prison director and gang leader are killed

On Thursday, about 400 detainees escaped from Croix-des-Bouquets prison in capital Port-au-Prince. Violence surrounding the escape killed 25 people, the authorities announced Friday night. Among the dead are the warden and a notorious Haitian gang leader.

That gang leader, Arnel Joseph, was killed in a gunfight with the police one day after the escape. On Friday, Joseph rode a motorcycle through the city of LEstère, about 100 kilometres from Port-au-Prince, when he was spotted at a checkpoint. After he pulled out a gun, he was shot by cops.

Joseph was considered one of the most wanted gang leaders in Haiti, until he was arrested in 2019 on suspicion of murder, rape and kidnapping.

Civil casualties

According to the Haitian authorities, sixty prisoners have now been arrested again. Police are still in the process of identifying all the fatalities, reports a government spokesman.

Apart from the warden and Arnel Joseph, six detainees were killed in the attempt to escape. Among the dead are also peaceful civilians attacked by fleeing prisoners, says the spokesman.


The prison outbreak is the largest in Haiti in the last decade, but certainly not the only one. In 2014, more than 300 detainees managed to escape from Croix-des-Bouquets prison. After that, the authorities promised that security would be increased, but it is unclear whether that has happened. In Port-au-Prince prison, about 1,500 people are trapped.