The Guardian reported in October 2021 that 17 missionaries from the United States and Canada had been abducted in Haiti. The 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the party as they were traveling to Port-au-Prince’s airport to fly home. Since the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, gang activity has increased, according to Reuters. In fact, Haiti is classified as a Level 4: Do Not Travel location by the US Department of State, which advises US nationals to completely avoid the country.
A Florida couple was abducted on March 18 and held for ransom, according to a story from CNN that was confirmed on March 30 by the State Department. The couple reportedly went to the nation to see family and take part in a festival. Abigail and Jean-Dickens Toussaint, according to a source who claimed to be a member of the victim’s family, were kidnapped from a bus leaving Port-au-Prince.
Two U.S. citizens were kidnapped in Haiti, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Thursday, adding that Washington is in regular contact with Haitian authorities and will continue to work with them. https://t.co/ulcvqWsiWo— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) March 30, 2023
Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said the department was in “regular contact with Haitian authorities” on the couple but would not provide any other information. When questioned with specifics on who may have committed the crime, Patel chose not to respond.
According to the initial CNN report, the family released a statement pleading for the couple’s safe return. The tipster, who identified himself as a relative, told a CNN station that the kidnappers stopped the bus and told any Americans on board to get out. According to reports, they initially asked $6,000 from the victims’ loved ones before raising the price to $200,000 each.
According to a statement made to CNN by a US State Department official, when an American is abducted abroad, the department collaborates with “local authorities” to launch a search. The risk in Haiti appears to be so great that the US Embassy there has even limited personnel travel there.