(NewsNation Now) — A Haitian gang that kidnapped a group of American and Canadian missionaries is asking for $17 million, or $1 million each, to release them, according to a top Haitian official.
Among the 16 Americans and one Canadian are five children, including an 8-month-old baby, according to the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. They were abducted in an area called Croix-des-Bouquets, about 8 miles outside the capital, which is dominated by the 400 Mawozo gang.
Five children, whose ages range from 8 months to 15 years, seven women and five men were taken. They were abducted on Oct. 16. The organization said they were on a trip to visit an orphanage.
Sheriff Todd Baxter of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Rochester, New York, has done missionary work in Haiti. He joined Adrienne on “Morning in America” to discuss his experiences during his trips to the country over the past decade.
“The increased threat has been occurring over probably the last four or five years. The instability of the government there, we were there five years ago, there was no sitting president and of course we had an assassination and an earthquake in the most recent times, so instability is leading to this chaos. Someone needs to fill that gap, and you see the gangs filling that gap when there’s no law and government.”
Baxter said he recently spoke to some residents in Haiti, and they said they’re living in a constant state of fear.
“They’re fatigued; they’re actually fatigued from the fear of going outside. A young lady we’ve mentored, she’s tired, she’s tired of not being able to go outside, not go to work. She’s been robbed on the way to work. So it’s just that overall fatigue, they’re looking for some stability. They’re looking for some hope,” Baxter explained.
He said he would not advise anyone to travel to Haiti right now unless they have a security plan in place.
“I would go there to help. That’s the nature of my job description, I feel the need to help, and I have some special skills that may be able to help with that,” Baxter said. “But I would not advise most people to go over unless they have a security plan and additional resources they can make in Haiti to make that security plan happen.”