Tonton Macoute was a special operations unit within the Haitian paramilitary force created in 1959 by dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier.
In 1970, the militia was renamed the Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (VSN, Volunteers of the National Security). Haitians named this force after the Haitian mythological bogeyman, Tonton Macoute ("Uncle Gunnysack"), who kidnaps and punishes unruly children by snaring them in a gunny sack (macoute) and carrying them off to be consumed at breakfast
The Tonton Macoutes remained active even after the presidency of "Papa Doc" Duvalier's son "Baby Doc" ended with the anti-Duvalier protest movement 1986. Massacres led by paramilitary groups spawned from the Macoutes continued during the following decade.
There are two known former members which are shown in two separate continuities:
- Rene Thibault (also known as Jacques Bayard) (appears in the TV series)
- Deveaux (appears in the Dexter Comics -- Dexter: Issue 2 and Dexter: Issue 3)
James Doakes was active in Special Forces in Haiti when the Macoutes were still active. He was so horrified by the crimes committed by them that he couldn't stop himself from shooting a known member of the Macoutes when he spotted him in Miami in 2006.
Doakes described the crimes the Tonton Macoutes were responsible for to Maria LaGuerta. They included numerous murders and violent acts, such as forcing mothers to carry the heads of their dead children, forcing fathers to rape their daughters, and drowning people.