More than 400 prisoners were on the run in Haiti on Friday after they escaped from jail in a violent breakout that left 25 people dead, including the prison director, officials said.
“Twenty-five people died including six prisoners and Divisional Inspector Paul Hector Joseph who was in charge of the prison,” Secretary of Communication Frantz Exantus said of the Thursday mass escape from the jail in the suburbs of capital Port-au-Prince.
“Among those killed were some ordinary citizens who were killed by the prisoners during their escape,” Exantus told a press conference, adding 1,125 of the 1,542 prisoners at the Croix-des-Bouquets jail were in their cells on Friday morning.
One of the inmates who died was gang leader Arnel Joseph, who was gunned down on Friday at a police check 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the prison.
“Arnel Joseph was killed while attacking a police patrol which had stopped the motorcycle he was on. The police responded and Arnel Joseph is dead,” Exantus said.
Joseph, allegedly head of one of Haiti’s main criminal networks, was arrested in 2019 and had tried to escape from the prison last July after advertising his plan in a social media video a few days before the attempt.
While serving a sentence for murder, Joseph had already escaped twice from another prison, in Port-au-Prince, in 2010 and 2017.
Inaugurated in 2012, the high-security Croix-des-Bouquets prison was built with funding from Canada and has a maximum capacity of 872 inmates, although nearly double that number were incarcerated there before the escape.