The Haitian gang of 400 Mawozo, which kidnapped a group of missionaries and their families, demanded a million dollars for their release. 17 people were abducted, including seven women and five children. One of them is not yet a year old. Haiti’s Minister of Justice points out that negotiations with criminals may take weeks.
The American newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” reported that the gang of hijackers from Haitiwho kidnapped 17 Christian missionaries over the weekend, demanded a million-dollar ransom for each of the abductees.
Information about the demands of the kidnappers from the feared gang 400 Mawozo was provided on Monday by the Minister of Justice of the country, Liszt Quitel. It reported that the kidnapped missionaries and their families, 16 US citizens and a Canadian, are being held at a home outside the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. Negotiations with local authorities and the FBI began shortly after the kidnapping, but could take weeks, according to the minister.
– We are trying to free them without paying a ransom, this is the first course of action. Let’s be honest: when we give them this money, it will be used for even more weapons and ammunition, he said.
The Christian Aid Ministries of Ohio, a Protestant group, were kidnapped on Saturday in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince, on their way back from an orphanage near the Croix des Bouquets. Among the abductees are five men, seven women, and five children aged 8 months and 3, 6, 14 and 15 years of age.
FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on CNN explained that while US authorities generally advise against paying the ransom so as not to support the “kidnapping industry”, in practice it is often paid.
– Ransom demands are very, very rarely satisfied in full. There are negotiations and usually that amount drops significantly, McCabe said, adding that for the 400 Mawozo, earlier ransom amounts were counted in tens of thousands of dollars.
Behind the kidnapping stands “400 inexperienced men”
The group was kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang, known for mass kidnappings and attacks on religious groups. “The name of the gang, in Creole, translates to 400 inexperienced men,” reported The Washington Post. It has been indicated that the gang is in control of the very area where a group of missionaries have been kidnapped.
In April of this year, 400 Mawozo kidnapped five priests and two nuns. They were held in harsh conditions for over three weeks. The gang then demanded a million dollars for the group’s safe return home. It is unclear whether the ransom was paid, but the abductees returned home.
Almost a year ago, the Haitian police issued an arrest warrant for alleged gang leader Wilson Joseph, according to the Associated Press. He is accused of murder, attempted murder, car theft, as well as kidnapping and theft. According to The Washington Post, Joseph uses the Creole pseudonym “Lanmo Sanjou”, which loosely translated means “death doesn’t know which day is coming”.
The group’s deputy leader, Joly “Yonyon” Germine, is imprisoned. According to the daily, the Haitian authorities are negotiating with him.
The kidnapping “shocked the officials”
Kidnappings for ransom are a frequent source of income for criminal organizations in Haiti, and the situation worsens with political paralysis and the crisis in the country, especially after the (as yet unexplained) murder of President Jovenel Moise. The victims are not only foreigners, but even, for example, local sellers.
“Kidnapping of both rich and poor has become commonplace. But even in a country of such lawlessness, the kidnapping of such a large group of Americans shocked officials,” the New York Times commented.
Main photo source: Reuters