What we know about the kidnapping of four US citizens in Mexico

MEXICO CITY: Two US citizens have died and two others have survived after being captured by suspected drug dealers after entering crime-ridden northeastern Mexico for medical reasons.

The two who lost their lives were identified by US media as Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, the survivors as Latavia Washington McGee and Eric James Williams, who was wounded.

Here’s what we know so far about the kidnapping in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas state.

– Why were you in Mexico? –

The four US citizens entered Mexico on Friday so that one of them could have a medical procedure, Mexican officials and relatives interviewed US media.

Documents found in their vehicle indicated that “one of the Americans had come to have cosmetic surgery at one of the border clinics,” Tamaulipas Gov. Americo Villarreal said.

He dismissed rumors on social media that the victims worked for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), saying, “There is no reason to believe that they have any connection with the FBI.”

While Mexico is a popular destination for medical tourism, the US government has warned against traveling to Tamaulipas because of the risk of murder, kidnapping and other crimes.

– How were you kidnapped? –

The US citizens entered Mexico at 9:18 am (1518 GMT) on March 3 in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates.

Surveillance cameras recorded their drive through the streets of downtown Matamoros from 11:12 a.m.

Minutes later, they began being followed, first by a sedan and then by three pickups.

At 11:45 a.m., the victims’ minivan was intercepted by the three trucks and four gunmen got out, camera footage showed.

Shortly after, three other cars arrived at the scene, including another pickup, which the victims were placed in, images on social media show.

Initial indications are that the kidnapping was the result of “mix-up” and not a targeted attack, Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios said.

– What happened next? –

After being forced into the truck, the four Americans got out and attempted to flee, but the kidnappers shot them, according to the attorney general’s office.

A 33-year-old Mexican woman died near the scene, possibly from a stray bullet, Mexican authorities said.

The hijackers dragged the US citizens, some of whom were injured, back into the truck, prosecutors said.

– Where were they found? –

Three days after the kidnapping, the prisoners were taken to various locations in the city, including a clinic, to “create confusion and hamper rescue efforts,” Villarreal said.

Investigators visited at least six hospitals in the city without finding the missing US citizens.

The FBI offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who could provide information about the abductees’ whereabouts.

They were eventually discovered – two dead and two alive – in a wooden house during a search in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Matamoros.

The two survivors, one of whom had a gunshot wound to the leg, were returned to the United States through a land border crossing on Tuesday.

– Who was responsible? –

The only suspect arrested at the scene was a 24-year-old Tamaulipas man identified as Jose Guadalupe “N,” who was guarding the detainees when authorities arrived.

According to Barrios, although there is no proof of his gang affiliation yet, the Gulf Cartel is known to operate in the area.

US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar also highlighted the Gulf cartel and expressed concern about his control of the area.

The Gulf Cartel is one of Mexico’s oldest and most powerful criminal groups, although it has lost territory and influence to its rivals, according to Insight Crime, a nonprofit investigative organization. -AFP

https://www.thesundaily.my/home/what-we-know-about-kidnapping-of-four-us-citizens-in-mexico-JE10728144 What we know about the kidnapping of four US citizens in Mexico

Russell Falcon

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