By Greg Rivera
According to reports from US media, four US citizens were abducted on March 3rd while traveling to Matamoros in the north-eastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas for cosmetic surgery. The kidnapping, carried out by armed men, resulted in two American nationals’ deaths, while the remaining two were transported to American hospitals for treatment. Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, expressed regret over the tragedy, saying, “We are very sorry that this happened in our country, and we send our condolences to the families of the victims, friends, and the United States government, and we will continue doing our work to guarantee peace and tranquility.” The two survivors were safely repatriated to the US on Tuesday, March 7th, with the help of the US consulate in Matamoros, under armed escort by a heavily armed Mexican military convoy. The FBI later confirmed that the kidnappers transferred the victims between various locations after the kidnapping, which created confusion. In addition, according to the FBI, one of the surviving victims sustained severe injuries during the attack. In a statement, the FBI pledged to work closely with international partners and other law enforcement agencies to bring those responsible for the “horrific and violent attack” to justice. According to US officials, the bodies of the two deceased Americans, Zindell Brown (28), and Shaeed Woodard (33), have been repatriated. The FBI said the victims traveled in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates when unidentified shooters opened fire. Video footage shows the four being loaded into a pickup truck by heavily armed men. Family members identified the two injured Americans as Latavia “Tay” McGee (33), a mother of six from South Carolina, and Eric James Williams (38). A group claiming to represent a faction of the Gulf Cartel has reportedly handed over five men with their hands tied to the local authorities. According to reports, the group left a letter of apology for the incident, stating that the five men were responsible for the attack on the Americans. The Tamaulipas attorney general’s office has since confirmed that the same five men handed over by the cartel faction remain detained on suspicion of participating in the kidnapping and killings. In a statement, the office said that the investigation is ongoing, and authorities are working to determine the extent of the men’s involvement in the crime. The incident has sent shockwaves through the US and Mexico, with many expressing concern about the safety of American citizens traveling to areas known to be plagued by drug cartel violence. In addition, the incident highlights the need for increased cooperation between law enforcement agencies in both countries to combat the ongoing threat posed by organized crime groups operating in the region.