Nikese Toussaint, the sister of Jean-Dickens Toussaint, recently spoke to the Associated Press about her brother being kidnapped on March 18 in Haiti . Toussaint, his wife Abigail Michael Toussaint and another person were taken off a public bus in what officials believe are a string of gang-related kidnappings.
The gang is demanding $200,000 per person for their safe return. Nikese Touissant shared with AP that this isn’t the first time family members of hers were kidnapped. Seventeen years prior, gangs kidnapped two of her cousins in Port-au-Prince. They were eventually set free, but still have trauma from the incident.
“How are we ever going to come up with that money?” Toussaint commented to The Associated Press during a phone interview Monday from the U.S. Jean-Dickens Toussaint has been allowed to make two short phone calls to his family. Toussaint said all she knows is that he and his wife, Abigail, are tied up. The pair traveled to visit Jean-Dickens Toussaint’s hometown of Leogane to attend the Rara festival.
The couple, who hail from Tamarac, Fl a. , never reached their destination. Gangs infiltrated the public bus they were on as it attempted to cross Martissant, where ongoing violence has intensified since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Toussaint said her family paid someone they knew $6,000 to give to the gang. However, that money has disappeared and s he believes it was a scam. “That’s when we said, ‘Uh, oh. W e have to get help,’” she explained. “We didn’t know what to do at that point. We don’t want to take any more risks.”
The U.S. State Department released a statement saying they knew of reports of two U.S. citizens being kidnapped. The agency also said they were in consistent contact with Haitian authorities. Just this month, at least 101 kidnappings were reported. Another 208 were killed in gang violence during that period, the U.N. has stated.