One of Haiti’s most powerful gangs is believed to be behind the kidnapping of 17 American and Canadian missionaries over the weekend, a source in the Caribbean country’s security forces told CNN. Authorities believe the “400 Mawozo” gang abducted the group, which included 16 Americans and 1 Canadian, after the missionaries visited an orphanage on Saturday in Croix des Bouquets, a suburb northeast of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. As they were traveling from the orphanage towards Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, gang members stopped the vehicle at gunpoint.
The 400 Mawozo gangs have been growing in strength for the past three years, numbering up to 150 members, and have essentially taken control of Croix des Bouquets, the source in Haiti’s security forces told CNN on Sunday.
Kidnapping for ransom is a hallmark activity of the gang. They have abducted dozens of people this year alone, including foreign nationals, the source said.
Once notorious for car theft, the 400 Mawozo has pioneered “collective” kidnappings of large groups of victims from buses and cars, according to the Center for Analysis and Research for Human Rights (CARDH), a Port-au-Prince-based nonprofit.
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