Americans ‘buying medicine’ were not ‘intended target’ when kidnapped by cartel in Matamoros
The four US citizens kidnapped at gunpoint in Mexico are not believed to have been intentionally targeted, CNN reports.
Citing a US official with knowledge of the investigation, the network reports that it was likely a mistake.
The same official said the Americans were not thought to have been in Mexico for criminal purposes.
The FBI has launched a search for the group of four Americans who drove across the US border with Mexico on Friday.
They crossed into Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in their white minivan, according to the US Embassy & Consulates in Mexico.
Not long after crossing the border, they were ambushed by a group of gunmen who fired on the passengers in the vehicle.
The four Americans were then placed in another vehicle and driven from the scene by the armed men, the embassy said.
Officials have not released the identities of the US citizens but said that their white minivan had North Carolina licence plates.
The purpose of their visit to Mexico is unclear, but the US official told CNN that they were there for medical procedures based on receipts found in the vehicle.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also said earlier in the day: “The information we have is that they crossed the border to buy medicines in Mexico, there was a confrontation between groups and they were detained.”
He added: “The whole government is working on it.”
The US State Department is advising Americans not to travel to Tamaulipas due to the risk of crime and kidnapping. The region is on the “Level 4: Do Not Travel” list.
The border city of Matamoros is largely controlled by the Gulf drug cartel, with violence and migrant smuggling rife.
Oliver Rich, Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio Division of the FBI, said in the press release that the FBI is seeking the public’s help in identifying the assailants responsible for the assault and kidnapping.
A reward of $50,000 is being offered for information leading to the return of the victims and the arrest of the kidnappers.
An investigation – involving the FBI, federal partners and Mexican law enforcement agencies – is currently underway.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741 or to submit tips anonymously online at https://tips.fbi.gov