By: Peter Babb

17 American and Canadian missionaries, including five children, are held captive by a criminal gang in Haiti. The gang, 400 Mawozo, has demanded $1 million for each hostage – $17 million in total. The hostage situation has led to a stand-off between law enforcement and the gang.

The abducted missionary group was outside of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The missionary group went to visit an orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince, according to Christian Aid Ministries. The organization, in a statement, said that the group has 16 Americans and one Canadian, including a two-year-old child.

Kidnappings in Haiti are not uncommon. Haiti has had problems with lawlessness and political turmoil for years, leading to widespread crime. Such as the assassination of former Haiti president Jovenel Moïse in July. Since then, crimes have become rampant in Port-au-Prince and around the country. Leading to gangs, such as 400 Mawozo, to take control of the nation.

However, a crime of this large of a group has led American officials shocked. As kidnappings of Americans and other foreign nationals are extremely rare in Haiti. The FBI is working with the Haitian police to track down and free the hostages.

Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger said on CNN that the U.S government will do everything possible to free the hostages.”We need to track down where they are and see if negotiations without paying ransom are possible,” said Kinzinger. “Or do whatever we need to on the military front or police front.”

It is still unclear where negotiations are at with 400 Mawozo, as the State Department did not comment on the situation.