2 Americans Violently Kidnapped in Mexico Found Dead, 2 Alive

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Mexico’s president said Tuesday that two of the four U.S. citizens who were assaulted and kidnapped in Mexico have been found dead, while the other two have been found alive.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that one of the individuals who was found alive had been injured in last week’s violent abduction.

Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios confirmed the development in a tweet, noting that more details would be provided a later time.

“Derived from the joint search actions, the four American citizens deprived of their liberty last Friday were found,” Barrios said. “Unfortunately, two dead. Investigation and intelligence work continue to capture those responsible. Details will be given later.”

All four American citizens who were assaulted and kidnapped by gunmen in Mexico on Friday have been identified by family members.

It remains unclear which of the four have been found alive.

Latavia “Tay” McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and Eric James Williams are the names of the four abducted Americans, according to family members who spoke to CNN, ABC, and the Associated Press.

Zalandria Brown of Florence, South Carolina, told the AP that her younger brother, Zindell Brown, was one of the four kidnapping victims.

“This is like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from,” she told the outlet in a phone interview. “To see a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged, it is just unbelievable.”

A dramatic video posted on Twitter shows the moment the Americans were held at gunpoint and forced into the back of a white pickup truck.

Armed men clad in what appear to be bulletproof vests and carrying long rifles are seen in the footage forcing a woman into the truck and dragging the others along the ground and hoisting them into the pickup.

McGee’s mother, Barbara Burgess, told ABC that her daughter traveled from South Carolina to Mexico for a cosmetic medical procedure.

Burgess told the outlet that she had advised her daughter against going, but McGee insisted, saying she’d “be okay.”

She told ABC that the last time she heard from her daughter was when McGee called to say she was about 15 minutes from the doctor’s office.

Neither Mexican nor U.S. authorities have officially confirmed the victims’ identities.

Americans kidnapped in Mexico
Americans kidnapped in Mexico Mexican authorities search for evidence to locate four Americans who were shot by gunmen and then kidnapped shortly after crossing the border from Brownsville, Texas, to Matamoros, Mexico, on March 6, 2023. (Stringer/Reuters)

More Details

Officials from Mexico and the United States said the four Americans entered Mexico on March 3 in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates.

The FBI said the vehicle came under fire soon after it entered Matamoros, located just across the U.S.–Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas, in Tamaulipas.

“All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the FBI San Antonio office said in a March 5 statement.

Tamaulipas is one of six states in Mexico that the State Department advises Americans not to travel to due to the threat of organized crime activity, including kidnapping for ransom.

The FBI didn’t provide details about the abducted Americans and called for the public’s help identifying those responsible for the assault and kidnapping.

A $50,000 reward for the return of the victims and arrest of the perpetrators has been announced.

The Mexican president told a March 6 press conference that the group of Americans had “crossed the border to buy medicines in Mexico” and that “a confrontation between groups” ensued after the U.S. citizens were “kidnapped.”

He said that the “whole government is working on” the case.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a press conference on Monday that President Joe Biden has been briefed about the incident and that U.S. authorities are working with Mexican agencies to locate the missing Americans.

“We are closely following the assault and kidnapping of four U.S. citizens in Matamoros, Mexico. These sorts of attacks are unacceptable,” Jean-Pierre said. “Our thoughts are with the families of these individuals, and we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

“We will continue to coordinate with Mexico and push them to bring those responsible to justice,” she added.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said in a statement on Monday that U.S. law enforcement is working with Mexican authorities to “secure the safe return” of the abducted Americans.

Salazar also said that an innocent Mexican bystander had been killed in the incident.

Tamaulipas is considered one of the more dangerous parts of Mexico, where drug cartels control much of the territory and often wield more power than local law enforcement.

The State Department warned in the advisory that organized crime is common in Tamaulipas, including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault.

“Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments,” the State Department warned, adding that heavily armed gang members often patrol the state and operate with impunity.

On March 3, the day of the violent kidnapping, the U.S. consulate in Matamoros issued an alert, citing reports of an individual being shot in what seemed to be the same incident.

The alert warned U.S. government employees to avoid the area, noting that this area in Mexico is under the highest-level travel warning issued by the State Department, namely a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory.

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