A gang in Haiti is asking for $17 million in ransom money in exchange for kidnapped American and Canadian missionaries.
The “400 Mawozo gang” is said to be one of the most powerful gangs in all of Haiti. On Saturday, the gang kidnapped 16 American citizens and one Canadian on a missionary trip. The group was taken after the gang visited an orphanage in Croix-des-Bouquets over the weekend, CNN reports.
The kidnappers are reportedly holding the hostages outside of the suburb of the capital Port-au-Prince. Haitian Justice Minister Liszt Quitel told CNN that the gang members want roughly $1 million for each of the hostages. The group includes five men, seven women, and five children.
The FBI is now actively looking for the hostages with the help of Haitian police negotiators, who are all helping the group handle themselves while with the gang members. CNN reports that negotiations are being made. Authorities have not spoken to the kidnappers directly.
“The FBI is part of a coordinated US government effort to get the Americans involved to safety. Due to operational considerations, no further information is available at this time,” an FBI spokesperson told CNN.
Quitel says the gang members have been warned not to harm the hostages. “The kidnappers have been warned about harming the hostages and what may be the consequences for them [if that were to happen]. But they are not swayed by those warnings,” said Quitel.