September 30, 2023

  • Florida couple was kidnapped visiting household in Haiti
  • The primary try and pay the ransom failed, the household misplaced $6,000
  • FBI and U.S. State Division are conscious of state of affairs and serving to household

TAMARAC, Fla. (NewsNation) — For the primary time in additional than per week, the Toussaint household mentioned on Sunday that they spoke to their family members who had been kidnapped and had been being held for ransom in Haiti.

Jean-Dickens Toussaint, an accountant, and Abigail Michael Toussaint, a social employee — a Tamarac couple — had been touring to go to members of the family in Haiti once they had been captured by Haitian gang members on March 18. Since then, Jean-Dickens Toussaint has solely been allowed to make two temporary calls.

The couple was on their technique to Jean-Dickens’ hometown of Leogane when gangs stopped the general public bus they had been on because it tried to cross Martissant, thought-about floor zero for ongoing violence that has worsened because the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

The gangs apparently seen the suitcases within the bus and zeroed in on the couple and the particular person accompanying them on the journey, Jean-Dickens’ sister Nikese Toussaint mentioned.

“Apparently these business buses have a deal to pay the gangs to not hassle them for every journey from Port-au-Prince to our city Leogane, however apparently that bus driver that day didn’t pay the payment and form of allow them to go as collateral,” Jean-Dickens’ niece Christie DeSormes mentioned.

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The household paid somebody they trusted $6,000 to provide to the gang, however the cash vanished. It’s common for gangs in Haiti to refuse to launch kidnapping victims even after they’ve been paid, however Nikese believes it was a rip-off.

Christie advised NewsNation that she feels helpless, particularly because the first spherical of paying the ransom didn’t work. “And so they tried to jack up the value,” she added.

“That’s once we mentioned, ‘Uh, oh, we’ve to get assist,’” she recalled. “We didn’t know what to do at that time. We don’t wish to take any extra dangers.”

All Nikese mentioned she is aware of is that Jean-Dickens and Abigail are tied up, saying the cellphone calls are too temporary to seek out out if they’re being given meals or water or handled usually nicely.

Nikese mentioned her household is in contact with the FBI, which helps with the case.

“To the gangs, I wish to say, we would like our household again. We’re not wealthy over right here,” Nikese mentioned.

A press release from the U.S. State Division mentioned the company was conscious of stories of two U.S. residents being kidnapped and was in common contact with Haitian authorities.

The kidnappings are the newest to focus on U.S. residents, though most victims are Haitian, starting from rich enterprise house owners to humble avenue distributors. At the very least 101 kidnappings had been reported within the first two weeks of March alone, with one other 208 individuals killed in gang clashes throughout that interval, in accordance with the U.N.

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The continuing violence in Port-au-Prince and past additionally has displaced not less than 160,000 individuals as warring gangs set fireplace to neighborhoods of their bid to manage extra territory.

Greater than per week has passed by because the Toussaints had been kidnapped. Their household is attempting to remain robust as a result of the couple has a son who turns 2 on Tuesday.

“We’re attempting to smile,” Nikese Toussaint mentioned of their video calls with the boy. “We now have to smile with him and provides him love, and on the identical time we get just a little smile (from him), and that’s when the ache will get just a little more durable.”

Proper now, there’s a stage 4 journey advisory nonetheless in place for Haiti due to the unrest and violence in addition to kidnapping.

Christie mentioned her uncle and his spouse had been conscious of the danger — however they completely needed to see this member of the family in Haiti as a result of it was a life-or-death state of affairs.

The Related Press contributed to this report.