With a net worth of about $2 billion, Blackwater founder Erik Prince should have a pretty comfortable life. Apparently not—the defense contractor is now trying to profit from the plight of Afghan refugees rushing to leave the country as the Taliban takes over.
As The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 25, Prince plans to charge $6,500 per person for a seat on a chartered plane taking people out of Kabul, Afghanistan. He also wants to charge extra for transporting people from their homes to the airport.
President Joe Biden’s plan to withdraw American military troops from Kabul by Aug. 31 as the Taliban establishes its control in Afghanistan has resulted in a rush of Afghan citizens trying to get out of the country. So far, about 88,000 have been evacuated by U.S. troops and allied forces. There are still several U.S. citizens and Afghan citizens who worked with U.S. forces in the country who need to be evacuated.
U.S. press secretary Jen Psaki criticized Prince for trying to profit from a desperate situation. "I don't think any human being who has a heart and soul would support efforts to profit off of peoples' agony and pain as they're trying to depart a country,” she said in a press conference.
Erik Prince has been under scrutiny before
This isn’t the first time Prince came under scrutiny for his actions. The former U.S. Navy SEAL and Trump ally stepped down from his leadership role at the military defense company he founded, Blackwater Worldwide, amid controversy after four Blackwater employees opened fire at Baghdad’s Nisour Square and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Sep. 2007. Although the guards were eventually convicted of manslaughter, former president Donald Trump pardoned them in Dec. 2020.
In 2020, Prince was accused of recruiting ex-spies to infiltrate and gather intelligence on Democratic congressional campaigns and liberal organizations considered hostile to the Trump agenda, The New York Times reported. And in 2021, United Nations investigators found that Prince had violated a U.N. arms embargo on Libya when he sent weapons in 2019 to a militia that was attempting to overthrow the Libyan government, according to The New York Times.
Erik Prince’s sister is Besty DeVos
Prince was born and raised in Holland, Mich. He has four siblings, one of whom is former U.S. secretary of education Besty DeVos.
Although Blackwater is considered the largest private military company globally, with over $1.6 billion in federal contracts and more than $600 million classified contracts with the CIA, it isn’t the main source of Prince’s wealth. According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, Prince inherited much of his net worth from his father’s automotive accessory company, Prince Machine.
Prince founded Blackwater in 1997, a year after his family sold Prince Machine for $1.35 billion.
Erik Prince has had three wives
Prince has been married three times, and he has seven children. His first wife, Joan Nicole, died of cancer in 2003. He met his second wife, Joanna Hack, when she was a nanny for his four children. Prince and Hack were reportedly involved while his first wife was dying of cancer, and the two married a year after Joan’s death. Prince and Hack divorced in 2012. Today, Prince is married to former Blackwater spokesperson Stacy DeLuke.