According to US and Mexican officials, two of the four Americans who were abducted by armed gunmen in the Mexican border city of Matamoros on Friday were discovered dead, and the other two were discovered alive on Tuesday.
The U.S. State Dept said 2 of the missing Americans, who were found alive after being kidnapped in Mexico, have returned to the U.S., and that the bodies of the 2 others were recovered. Here’s what we know so far.— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 8, 2023
(warning: distressing) pic.twitter.com/yIAVrr7rwc
According to a US official familiar with the current inquiry, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were discovered dead. Before being passed over to the American government, their remains would first be investigated by Mexican authorities, the official said.
According to the official, Latavia Washington McGee, a mother of six, and Eric Williams made it out alive. They were brought to a hospital in Texas for care and oversight. Officials from the Mexican authorities reported that Washington McGee was discovered unharmed. Williams’ wife, Michele Williams, told reporters that he had been shot twice in one leg and once in the other.
Tamaulipas Governor Américo Villarreal reported that one individual had been detained in connection with the event, although officials would not clarify whether the person is connected to a criminal group.
The bodies were discovered in a “wooden shack” near Matamoros and had been moved around over the course of many days “to cause confusion and evade rescue efforts,” according to Villarreal.
Days after the four Americans were kidnapped in Matamoros at gunpoint in what is thought to be an identification error, their whereabouts have just been discovered.
The close-knit group of friends flew to Mexico from South Carolina so that Washington McGee could receive treatment there on Friday, but they were unable to make it to the appointment.
At around 9:18 a.m., the gang entered the Tamaulipas state’s Matamoros. Friday, Villareal said, but a close friend of Washington McGee who wished to remain anonymous reported that they were unsuccessful in finding the medical clinic. On Friday, they contacted the doctor’s office for directions but had trouble connecting with the office due to a weak cellular signal.
They were fired upon after crossing the border by unidentified gunmen, who then “put them in a vehicle and took them from the site,” according to the FBI.
Authorities suspect the Americans were targeted by a Mexican gang that likely mistaken them for Haitian drug runners, the US official said. Investigators have not found any troubling criminal histories regarding the US citizens, the official said.
According to US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar, the incident also resulted in the death of an uninvolved Mexican onlooker. According to Tamaulipas Governor Américo Villarreal, the woman was shot by a stray bullet about a block and a half from where the Americans were taken.
Their kidnapping brings to light the persistent violence that has plagued various Mexican cities throughout the protracted drug war in Mexico as well as the expanding “medical tourism” industry.
Just over the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, is Matamoros, a city of more than 500,000 inhabitants. For US Americans considering visiting Tamaulipas, the US State Department has issued a “Level 4: Do Not Go” recommendation citing crime and kidnapping.
American law enforcement was not conducting a search on the ground.
According to Irving Barrios Mojica, the attorney general of Tamaulipas, federal and local Mexican authorities are actively involved in the search for the Americans and have formed a combined task force to coordinate with US authorities.
Villarreal stated during a news conference on Tuesday that US law enforcement was not helping to find the missing Americans on the ground in Mexico.
According to a US official, 4 US nationals were abducted by gunmen in Mexico in the event of mistaken identity. Mexican officials showed a timeline of the hunt, along with images of the automobiles the kidnappers were thought to have been driving, before the victims were located Tuesday morning. Rosa Icela Rodrguez, the secretary of security for Mexico, stated that since Sunday, the Mexican government has been in continual contact with the US ambassador and other American officials.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price commended Mexican allies for assisting the recovery of the Americans.
In the end, he said, “we want to see accountability for the aggression that has been inflicted on these Americans that regrettably resulted in the death of two of them.
However, he added, “we are always going to look at every tool that is by law or any other authority available to us to attempt to work with our Mexican partners to crack down on what is the threat to Mexicans and to Americans alike.” He also did not rule out designating drug cartels as terrorist organizations, as some Republican lawmakers have called for.
Mom was going somewhere for a medical treatment.
According to her mother, Barbara Burgess, Washington McGee, a mother of six children, had previously traveled to Mexico for a medical treatment.
About two to three years ago, according to Burgess, she made the trip to the nation for surgery. But this time, Burgess was alerted by the FBI on Sunday that her daughter had been kidnapped and was in danger.
The Americans were in Mexico for medical operations, according to receipts discovered in the group’s van.
Reporters was informed by a close friend of Washington McGee that the trip was for cosmetic surgery. According to the acquaintance, the group reserved a hotel in Brownsville and intended to travel to Matamoros for the procedure.
Medical travel to Mexico is expanding, but there are concerns involved.
A day following the kidnapping, the friend became concerned and sought out to the doctor’s office for more information.
The buddy claimed, “When I contacted the doctor’s office, they informed me that Latavia had contacted them to ask them for directions since she was lost. They claimed to have supplied her the address and inquired as to whether she was using a GPS in a snapshot of the communications they gave to me.
According to a police complaint, the four were reported missing to Brownsville police on Saturday. Cheryl Orange reported the group’s disappearance to authorities from a Motel 6 in Brownsville on Saturday after they had left for Matamoros in a leased minivan on Friday morning.
Orange, who claimed authorities she had stayed behind in the US because she did not have an ID with her, said the four had not been answering their cell phones.
According to the report, Brownsville Police investigated the neighborhood jail to make sure that no members of the party had been arrested, but no further action was taken.
According to Brown’s sister Zalandria Brown, the group of missing Americans were bound “like glue” since they grew up together in South Carolina. She continued by saying how close she and her brother are.
“Zindell is like my shadow, like my son, like my hip bone,” the speaker said. We’re just that close together,” she explained.
Mexico has emerged as a particularly well-liked “medical tourism” destination, drawing tourists who may be looking for less expensive options or medical treatments that are either not available or not approved in the US. The CDC cautions that the expanding trend may bring severe risks, including infection and other post-procedure problems, depending on the location and facility.
Yet according to Josef Woodman, the company’s founder, Matamoros is “not considered a priority medical travel destination” mainly because there aren’t any globally approved hospitals or specialty clinics there or nearby.
“We don’t know if she’s alive or dead.”
When the family hadn’t heard from the group of pals by Sunday, according to Washington McGee’s aunt Mary McFadden, they started looking online for any news pertaining to their travel destination. The family then saw a video that McFadden claimed showed her niece being kidnapped.
“We recognized her and her blonde hair,” McFadden added. She added that she had recognized her niece’s clothing in a live Facebook video that Washington McGee had shared earlier on Friday.
She added that Washington McGee’s children range in age from six to eighteen and that we needed her to return here for them.