Miami resident Clifford Brandt, scion of the Haitian banking and business family, arrested yesterday in Port-au-Prince for running a kidnapping ring in Haiti:
Clifford’s uncle Gregory Brandt, photographed at home in Haiti for the French M Magazine
This is by far my favorite Haitian story ever to make the headlines since I began covering Haiti years ago. In my forthcoming book, Farewell, Fred Voodoo, I speculate about why kidnapping stopped for many weeks after the earthquake. I posit that many kidnappers had been killed; that habits — so important to kidnap planning — had been disrupted; that kidnappers were too busy saving their nearest and dearest to rush out and take the Ns and Ds of others. Once rubble was somewhat cleared and you could manage to get a getaway car away, the kidnappings began again.
So now I have another very good answer for the brief hiatus in kidnappings: Clifford Brandt — who has been accused of kidnapping two children from the Moscoso family, another elite dynasty in Haiti, and of running an elaborate kidnapping ring — must have been out of the country. Everyone knows that the upper classes of Haiti fled as soon as possible after the earthquake struck in January, 2010. So probably Ti Clifford, as he is known among his friends, was among the many who took chartered jets out to Miami — and therefore he wasn’t around to run his ring of about 250 henchmen, many of them members of the same police force that has just now arrested him. Anyway, the Haitian news is now full of mad, baroque (but probably at least 50% accurate) speculation about the Brandts and the Moscosos and family feuds and settling of scores.