Haiti has been in the news again. Gangs have replaced government and are basically in control of the country. This is not new, at least not new in Haiti. I’ve had my own inter-action with Haiti. Sort of.
Ton Ton Miami
I have not met many men or women, I’ve been afraid of, but there have been a few.
I’d been in Florida going on 4 weeks. It was supposed to be 2. The client and I had been up and down the state, driving all day, then stopping for the night.
I knew the Postal authorities were “looking” for my client. A source had told about the 77 count indictment from California, the warrants issued, and the visit and attempt to arrest at the Diamond Head residence.
Since I didn’t have any “official” notice, we were careful not to contact our attorney; I wasn’t going to give him up until I had too. He appeared so close to getting this 7.5 million dollar transfer. That would have paid everything, and everybody, including me and my security team. The last was very important to me.
It was our second time in Miami. We had a few hours to kill before his next business call with the mysterious “Claude”. “Claude” was supposedly a banker from London, brokering a deal with my client and someone in the government of the Bahamas.
I had seen numerous prior bank transfers for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the client’s office. Some of them were from a “Seven Oaks” bank of London and also large transfers from several U.S. National labor unions. I didn’t realize the reason my client wanted, and needed body guards, was it all a scam, elaborate, but a confidence scam just the same. We stopped at my request at a huge Miami gun shop that advertised an indoor range with lanes for rent. I needed some recreational relief. Shooting is always good for that.
I had been carrying a “Star” PD, .45 cal., a lightweight pistol the whole time. Since we were mostly in the car I wasn’t risking too much exposure, well except for a mugging break-up.
So I put the gun, unloaded in a briefcase and we went into the gun shop. I was in heaven; this place was like a Sears but all guns. I could have just walked around for hours.
I noticed that there seemed to be a huge number of nickel-plated and engraved guns in the showcases. What I would have normally referred to as pimp guns. But I also noticed no one but the client and I were speaking English. So I kept my mouth shut.
We were waiting for the “Range Master”, really just another salesman, to open the door for us when I noticed the 6 guys.
They were just talking with another salesman but these guys were hard to ignore. Six men, all within 4 or 6 inches of the same height, all very-physically fit, all wearing the exact same suit, tie, shirt, and sunglasses. The only difference was their color. It ranged from light coffee to dark black. It was then I heard them speaking a strange sort of French-Spanish; a strange combination.
But our “Range Master” arrived so we went downstairs. My client balked at going to the range area. He finally admitted that he didn’t like guns. In fact, he was afraid of them. He tells me he’ll wait upstairs for me. With all the people around, what the hell, I went downstairs.
I bought a couple of boxes of ammo from the shop, paid the range/target fee, and picked a lane pretty much at the far end of the range.
I had been firing only a few minutes when the alert lights started flashing yellow. I finished my string, drop the mag, and cleared my weapon. I took off my hearing protectors and looked to the other end of the range in time to see the 6 men from upstairs enter the range as the range lights started blinking red.
The salesman with them set up 3 targets, 3 stepped forward and 3 stepped back. They all took off their matching sunglasses and I got my first look at their eyes.
I started this by saying I’ve not met many men or women that frightened me. These men frightened me. Looking into those eyes was terrifying. There was absolutely no life behind those eyes. They were, totally dead. There is no other way to put it.
I realized the range light was yellow and quickly put my hearing protection back on just as the first 3 started firing.
They were good. They were using Browning “Hi-Power” 9mm pistols. And they were cutting the targets to ribbons. And every shot was fired without any expression. No smiles, no grins for a good shot, nothing; nothing but center mass and face shots; over and over and over.
After the first group finished 2 or 3 13 round magazines, the salesman remounted new targets and the second group took the firing line and repeated the process with the same results.
Without firing another shot I packed up, turned in the ear muffs and walked out of the range and back upstairs.
The client was waiting for me as was the salesman who had taken me down stairs.
As they both realized I had not fired very much ammo. I looked at the salesman and asked him about the “suits”.
The shadow of fear that passes across his face was obvious. He shook his head and muttered;
“Ton Ton Macoute”, Haiti’s secret police.
He continued that every few months some would come to the store with all the proper documents to buy several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, and almost always used the range while there.
They couldn’t read or write but could kill you without blinking. “Papa Doc” Duvalier ran Haiti with an iron fist. To them, Duvalier was the embodiment of Baron Samudi, the head of the voodoo gods. To the Ton Ton, he was a god.
Duvalier would take children from the streets, indoctrinate them into the voodoo religion, and make them his “secret police”. His son, “Baby Doc”, wore the mantle of leader for a few years but was thrown out, to the French Rivera.
They weren’t “secret”, nor were they police.
But they were the most frightening men I ever saw.