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Mexico kidnapping – latest: Gulf cartel sends apology for attack as three Texas women go missing

Two sisters and a friend from Texas have gone missing in Mexico after crossing the border last month, according to the FBI.

Officials have named the women as Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios, 47, Marina Perez Rios, 48, and their friend, Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz, 53.

Meanwhile, a Mexican drug cartel has blamed five rogue members of its gang for the deadly kidnapping of four Americans in Matamoros.

The Gulf cartel’s Scorpions faction made the claims in a letter obtained by the Associated Press. Photos purportedly showed the suspects with their hands tied, face down on a sidewalk after being turned in by the cartel along with the letter.

The criminal group apologised for the kidnapping and said five of its members “acted under their own decision-making and lack of discipline”.

“The Gulf cartel asks the community to be calm as we’re committed to ensuring that these types of mistakes are not made ever again and plan to make those who are guilty pay,” the letter states.

The development followed reports that Mexican investigators conducted deep background checks on the four victims – LaTavia “Tay” McGee, Eric James Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown – as they probe the possibility of cartel links.

A report obtained by Reuters flagged the criminal records of Williams and Woodard, finding past drug convictions.

When authorities finally located the missing tourists four days after their abduction one week ago, McGee and Williams were rescued while Woodward and Brown were found dead.

Key Points

  • Mexican drug cartel ‘apologises’ for deadly kidnapping of four Americans

  • Local woman killed in crossfire identified as beloved church worker

  • Mexican president tells US: Fentanyl is your problem

  • US State Department warns against travel to cartel-ridden Mexican states

  • What happened to the four Americans ensnared in a deadly Mexico cartel kidnapping?

FBI reports two Texas sisters and friend missing in Mexico after crossing border last month

01:54 , Graeme Massie

The group has not been heard from for two weeks after heading to a flea market in city of Montemorelos.

FBI reports two Texas sisters and friend missing in Mexico

A tummy tuck appointment, cartel ambush on video and stash house rescue: Timeline of the Mexico kidnapping

01:01 , Graeme Massie

The four friends were ambushed by gunfire shortly after their minivan crossed the border into the city of Matamoros on 3 March, before being hauled off in a pickup truck.

They were found in a wooden shack on 7 March in a remote area of the Gulf State in a rural area of east of Matamoros.

Two of the victims, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, were found dead in the shack, an official told CNN.

The Independent’s Bevan Hurley has the timeline of events:

A tummy tuck, cartel ambush and stash house rescue: Timeline of the Mexico kidnapping

Mexican town Americans were kidnapped in was site of horrific 1989 murder

00:02 , Graeme Massie

The kidnapping of the four Americans from South Carolina has drawn renewed attention to a horror abduction in the same cartel-controlled border town of Matamoros more than 30 years ago.

Texas college student Mark Kilroy was 21 years old when he vanished from a Spring Break vacation in 1989.

A search dragged on for almost a month before Kilroy’s remains were found in a mass grave along with other victims.

He was found to have been abducted, tortured and killed by a drug-smuggling satanic cult.

Gustaf Kilander has the full story.

Mexico town Americans were kidnapped was site of horror 1989 spring break murder

FBI creates tip line to identify killers of US citizens

Friday 10 March 2023 23:26 , Graeme Massie

“FBI San Antonio announces the creation of a Digital Media Tip Line to aid in the identification of the person(s) responsible for the murder and kidnapping of U.S. Citizens visiting Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico on March 03, 2023,” the agency tweeted on Friday afternoon.

ICYMI: Wife of American kidnapping victim didn’t even know he’d left US

Friday 10 March 2023 23:00 , Megan Sheets

Eric James Williams and his friend Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee were rescued from a drug cartel ‘stash house’ on Tuesday – but their friends Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were found dead.

After the rescue, Mr Williams’ wife Michelle revealed that she hadn’t even known he was going to Mexico.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the story:

Wife of American who survived Mexico cartel kidnapping didn’t know he’d left US

Mexican drug cartels increase presence on Elon Musk’s Twitter

Friday 10 March 2023 22:29 , Graeme Massie

Mexican drug cartels have increased their presence on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the social media platform, according to a report.

The cartels are using Twitter to recruit members, post images and videos and send warnings to rival gangs, according to the report by the Alliance to Counter Crime Online.

“Already scant efforts by Twitter to remove violating content and block accounts of high-profile Mexican cartel members appear to have declined further since Elon Musk took over the company and dismantled the platform’s safety team,” the report states.

Mexican official says five vehicles, including stolen Lamborghini, found in Matamoros

Friday 10 March 2023 21:30 , Graeme Massie

Irving Barrios Mojica, the attorney general of Tamaulipas, said that the vehicles, which included a Lamborghini stolen in the US, were found as part of a joint operation by Mexican authorities.

Mexican president to US: Fentanyl is your problem

Friday 10 March 2023 21:00 , Megan Sheets

Mexico’s president said Thursday that his country does not produce or consume fentanyl, despite enormous evidence to the contrary.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appeared to depict the synthetic opioid epidemic largely as a U.S. problem, and said the United States should use family values to fight drug addiction.

His statement came during a visit to Mexico by Liz Sherwood-Randall, the White House Homeland Security Advisor, to discuss the fentanyl crisis. It also comes amid calls by U.S. Republicans to use the U.S. military to attack drug labs in Mexico.

The Mexican government has acknowledged in the past that fentanyl is produced at labs in Mexico using precursor chemicals imported from China. Fentanyl has been blamed for about 70,000 opioid deaths per year in the United States.

“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” López Obrador said. “Why don’t they (the United States) take care of their problem of social decay?”

Read more.

Mexican officials confirm arrests of five suspects

Friday 10 March 2023 20:16 , Megan Sheets

A Mexican official has confirmed the arrests of five suspects in the kidnapping of four Americans.

The announcement from Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica came a day after reports that the Gulf cartel had apologised for the deadly ordeal and blamed four rogue members.

Mr Barrios Mojica said the arrest warrants were for the crimes of aggravated kidnapping and intentional simple homicide. The suspects have not been officially named.

The attorney general previously announced that authorities had seized five vehicles in connection with the case, including a Lamborghini stolen on US soil.

Kidnapped American tourists only planned to be in Mexico for 15 minutes, fifth friend says

Friday 10 March 2023 18:30 , Megan Sheets

A fifth American who had travelled to Mexico with a group that was later kidnapped has claimed they were only planning to be in the country for 15 minutes.

Cheryl Orange had embarked on the trip from South Carolina with her pals Latavia “Tay” McGee, Eric Williams, Zindell Brown, Shaeed Woodard - but when they arrived at the border on 3 March, Ms Orange was denied entry because she didn’t have a photo ID.

She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that her friends drove her back to their hotel in Brownsville, Texas, and told her they would “return in 15 minutes”.

She said she was “worried and in fear because it didn’t seem right”.

That detail could raise questions over an explanation by the victims’ families that the group went to Mexico so Ms McGee could get a tummy tuck.

When asked by Cooper why the group went on the trip, Ms Orange reiterated that it was for Ms McGee to undergo a “cosmetic procedure”.

Shortly after entering Matamoros, the four Americans were ambushed by armed gunmen who held them captive for four days.

When authorities finally tracked the group down on 7 March, Woodard and Brown were dead and Ms McGee and Mr Williams were rescued.

Bodies of slain Americans returned to US

Friday 10 March 2023 15:15 , Joe Sommerlad

Two hearses carrying the bodies of Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown crossed the international bridge to Brownsville, Texas, on Thursday where their remains were handed over to the US authorities.

LaTavia McGee, who is Woodard’s cousin and survived the ordeal, had surprised him with the fatal road trip as a birthday getaway, according to his father, James Woodard.

He said he was speechless upon hearing that the cartel had apologised for the violent abduction that killed his son and was captured in footage that quickly spread online.

“Just being helpless – not to be able to do anything, not to be able to go there and just rescue them – it’s real painful,” Mr Woodard said.

Americans are found quickly, but Mexico’s missing remain lost

Friday 10 March 2023 13:30 , Andrea Blanco

When four Americans were kidnapped in the border city of Matamoros, authorities rescued the survivors after three days, but thousands of Mexicans remain missing in the state long associated with cartel violence — some in cases dating back more than a decade.

Mexican authorities quickly blamed the local Gulf cartel for shooting up the Americans’ minivan after they crossed the border for cosmetic surgery Friday. Authorities found the Americans — two dead, one injured and one apparently unharmed — early Tuesday after a massive search involving squads of Mexican soldiers and National Guard troops.

By contrast, more than 112,000 Mexicans remain missing nationwide, in many cases years or decades after they disappeared.

Although a convoy of armored Mexican military trucks extracted the Americans, the only ones searching for most of the missing Mexicans are their desperate relatives.

Read more here.

Mexico officials probing criminal records of slain American

Friday 10 March 2023 12:30 , Andrea Blanco

Mexican authorities investigating the kidnapping of four American citizens last week are probing the victims’ past criminal history.

Court documents filed by prosecutors and reviewed by Reuters show that among the lines of inquiry pursued by officials is the possibility that the US nationals abducted on 3 March were mistaken for drug smugglers by cartel members.

The group, LaTavia “Tay” McGee, Eric James Williams, Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard, were on their way to a plastic surgeon’s office when they were ambushed by gunmen in broad daylight. Ms McGee and Mr Williams were rescued, while Brown and Woodard were killed before police could locate them.

In the filings on Wednesday, local and state officials flagged Brown and Woodard’s past drug convictions in the US, adding that “it cannot be ruled out that the attack against (the Americans) could be directly linked to drug trafficking operations.”

What happened to the four Americans ensnared in a deadly Mexico cartel kidnapping?

Friday 10 March 2023 10:30 , Andrea Blanco

Four US citizens were ambushed and taken hostage in the border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, after crossing into Mexico for a cosmetic surgery procedure.

Four days later, two of them were found dead and two were rescued.

What happened to the four Americans ensnared in a deadly Mexico cartel kidnapping?

US State Department warns against travel to cartel-ridden Mexican states

Friday 10 March 2023 07:30 , Andrea Blanco

It is a stark warning to the early one million Americans who are estimated to visit Mexico for medical care every year, often in border towns where violence between rival cartels is particularly dire.

“There has been increased violence in the last several months,” Ken Bombace, a former US military intelligence officer who now provides

“The unstable situation with migration and fentanyl transport at the border has created a very dangerous environment... I would avoid travel to Mexico right now if it can in any way be avoided – especially in the north.”

The kidnappings come after a string of other incidents in which foreign travellers were killed or tangled up in conflict between rival gangs, as well as a far greater number of murders and “disappearances” targeting Mexican civilians.

Experts say that specific areas of Mexico remain broadly safe for tourists, with popular travel spots such as Yucatán state, Mexico City, and the city of Monterey posing little danger while states with a heavy cartel presence such as Sinaloa and Jalisco are best avoided.

The US State Department currently warns Americans not to travel to Matamoros and its surrounding state of Tamaulipas due to “crime and kidnapping“, with all but one other border state classified as “reconsider travel”.

American killed in Mexico kidnapping tried to cancel tummy tuck trip over drug cartel fears

Friday 10 March 2023 05:30 , Andrea Blanco

Mexican authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were the two US nationals found dead nearly four days after they were kidnapped in the Mexican city of Matamoros– an area dominated by the Gulf cartel.

Brown and Woodward travelled to Mexico from South Carolina with their friends Latavia “Tay” McGee and Eric James Williams, who survived the kidnapping.

The group drove from South Carolina and had just entered the border between Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros when they were caught in a shootout and forced out of their van and into the kidnapper’s vehicles.

Brown, Woodward and Mr Williams reportedly tagged along to help Ms McGee share driving duties as she was planning to undergo a tummy tuck procedure she had booked with a local plastic surgeon.

But before embarking on the trip that would prove fatal for him, Brown told his sister Zalandria Brown that he was worried about the dangers of visiting the cartel-dominated area.

“Zindell kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go down,’” Ms Brown told the Associated Press.

Girl, 8, kidnapped from Washington state mall in 2018 found alive in Mexico

Friday 10 March 2023 04:30 , Andrea Blanco

Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was four years old when she was last seen on a supervised visit with her biological mother at the mall in Vancouver, Washington.

Her mother was arrested in 2019 in Puebla, Mexico, but the youngster, who is now 8, had remained missing until she was found in Michoacán, Mexico, in February and has now been returned to the US, say officials.

“For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza,” said Richard A Collodi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the US.”

Girl, 8, kidnapped from Washington state mall in 2018 found alive in Mexico

Mexican president to US: Fentanyl is your problem

Friday 10 March 2023 03:30 , Andrea Blanco

Mexico’s president said Thursday that his country does not produce or consume fentanyl, despite enormous evidence to the contrary.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appeared to depict the synthetic opioid epidemic largely as a U.S. problem, and said the United States should use family values to fight drug addiction.

His statement came during a visit to Mexico by Liz Sherwood-Randall, the White House Homeland Security Advisor, to discuss the fentanyl crisis. It also comes amid calls by U.S. Republicans to use the U.S. military to attack drug labs in Mexico.

The Mexican government has acknowledged in the past that fentanyl is produced at labs in Mexico using precursor chemicals imported from China. Fentanyl has been blamed for about 70,000 opioid deaths per year in the United States.

“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” López Obrador said. “Why don’t they (the United States) take care of their problem of social decay?”

Read more.

Fifth American tourist reveals lucky escape

Friday 10 March 2023 03:04 , Graeme Massie

Cheryl Orange was part of the group of American childhood friends who drove from South Carolina to the border so that Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee could get a tummy tuck procedure.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the story:

Fifth American reveals lucky escape from Mexico cartel kidnapping

Mexican drug cartel ‘apologises’ for deadly kidnapping of four Americans

Friday 10 March 2023 02:30 , Andrea Blanco

An unnamed Tamaulipas state law enforcement official provided a letter believed to be authored by the Gulf drug cartel to the Associated Press. In it, the criminal organisation promised to turn over five men who kidnapped LaTavia “Tay” McGee, Eric James Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown on 3 March.

Mexican drug cartel ‘apologises’ for deadly kidnapping of four Americans

Mexico town Americans were kidnapped was site of horror 1989 murder of spring breaker Mark Kilroy

Thursday 9 March 2023 23:30 , Andrea Blanco

Almost 34 years after the killing of Mark Kilroy, Matamoros is once again the site of global attention after the kidnapping of four American tourists from South Carolina.

Mexico town Americans were kidnapped was site of horror 1989 spring break murder

Wife of American kidnapping victim didn’t even know he’d left US

Thursday 9 March 2023 22:20 , Andrea Blanco

Eric James Williams and his friend Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee were rescued from a drug cartel ‘stash house’ on Tuesday – but their friends Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were found dead.

The Independent’s Rache Sharp has the story:

Wife of American who survived Mexico cartel kidnapping didn’t know he’d left US

The Gulf drug cartel’s ‘apology'

Thursday 9 March 2023 21:15 , Andrea Blanco

An unnamed Tamaulipas state law enforcement official provided a letter believed to be authored by the Gulf drug cartel to the Associated Press. In it, the criminal organisation promised to turn over five men who kidnapped LaTavia “Tay” McGee, Eric James Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown on 3 March.

“We have decided to turn over those who were directly involved and responsible in the events, who at all times acted under their own decision-making and lack of discipline,” the letter reads, according to the AP.

An extended version of the letter shared by local media also read: “The Gulf drug cartel Scorpion section decries the attack on 3 March, in which a working [Mexican] mother was killed and four American citizens were kidnapped. Two of them were also killed.

“ [The five members] went against the Gulf drug carter’s rules of respecting the life and integrity of innocent people. We apologise to residents of Matamoros ... and the American families affected.”

“The Gulf cartel asks the community to be calm because we’re committed to ensuring that these types of mistakes are not made ever again and making those who are guilty pay.”

 (Reynosa Codigo Rojo/Facebook)
(Reynosa Codigo Rojo/Facebook)

Girl, 8, kidnapped from Washington state mall in 2018 found alive in Mexico

Thursday 9 March 2023 20:58 , Andrea Blanco

Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was four years old when she was last seen on a supervised visit with her biological mother at the mall in Vancouver, Washington.

The Independent’s Graeme Massie has more:

Girl, 8, kidnapped from Washington state mall in 2018 found alive in Mexico

PICTURED: Alleged kidnappers turned in by ‘Clan del Golfo’

Thursday 9 March 2023 20:43 , Andrea Blanco

Five rogue members of the Gulf drug cartel were turned in by the criminal organisation’s Scorpion faction for the fatal kidnapping of four Americans on 3 March.

The men were turned in along with a letter in which cartel leaders claimed that the suspects went against the group’s “rules” of always “respecting innocent lives.”

 (Reynosa Codigo Rojo/Facebook)
(Reynosa Codigo Rojo/Facebook)

What has the Biden administration said about the Mexico kidnappings?

Thursday 9 March 2023 20:10 , Josh Marcus

The kidnapping of four Americans last week, which led to the death of two people in the group, has shaken US-Mexico relations.

The Biden administration says the case has its “full attention.”

“We’ve been focused on taking big actions to fight drug traffickers and to go after the financial backing of cartels and their attempt to bring fentanyl into the country,” John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said earlier this week, adding that the administration is “working closely with Mexico to prosecute dangerous drug traffickers and of course rallying the global community to address this crisis.”

Surviving kidnapping victims back in US and receiving treatment: officials

Thursday 9 March 2023 19:50 , Josh Marcus

Latavia Washington McGee and Eric Williams, the two surviving members of a group of Americans kidnapped last week in Mexico, are back in the US and receiving treatment, according to officials.

Ms Washington McGee, a mother of six, and Mr Williams are both in Texas, where they are getting treatment and observation from doctors, according to a Mexican official.

The former was found uninjured, while the latter was shot twice in one leg and once in the other, CNN reports.

Swift Mexican response to kidnapping draws anger over past inaction

Thursday 9 March 2023 19:30 , Josh Marcus

Less than a week after four Americans were kidnapped in the city of Matamoros, Mexican officials found the group being held in a house outside of the city.

The swift government response has drawn comparisons to past tragedies, where critics say the Mexican government has dragged its feet securing the safety of Mexican citizens targeted for cartel violence, according to The New York Times.

“If only our government would apply the same force and due diligence to search for our disappeared in Mexico,” Delia Quiroa, who has been looking for a missing brother for nearly a decade, said in a recent video on social media.

In 2014, the country was rocked by the disappearance of 43 students.

Official: 6 of 43 missing Mexican students given to army

One million people do it every year. But after the tummy tuck murders, how safe is it to seek healthcare in Mexico?

Thursday 9 March 2023 19:12 , Josh Marcus

“Ma, I’ll be okay.” That was what 33-year-old Latavia “Tay” Washington McGee told her mother on Wednesday 1 March before setting off on the roughly 1,500 mile journey to Mexico to visit a medical clinic.

Two days later, Washington McGee and the three friends accompanying her were ambushed and kidnapped in the border town of Matamoros by gunmen believed to be part of a Mexican criminal cartel.

The trip ended in tragedy, with one Mexican bystander and two of the Americans killed while Washington McGee and the other survivor were returned safely to the US. Mexican police have arrested at least one suspect who allegedly surveilled the victims before the attack.

It is a stark warning to the early one million Americans who are estimated to visit Mexico for medical care every year, often in border towns where violence between rival cartels is particularly dire.

Io Dodds reports.

After the tummy tuck murders, how safe is it to seek healthcare in Mexico?

Leader of cartel group which allegedly kidnapped Americans identified

Thursday 9 March 2023 18:57 , Josh Marcus

Mexican news outlets Reforma and Milenio have identified Jose Alberto Garcia Vilano as the head of the Scorpions faction of the Gulf drug cartel, which allegedly took credit for the kidnapping of four Americans in the state of Matamoros last week.

The alleged cartel member, known by the aliases La Kena and Ciclon 19, has been linked to violent crimes in the past, including executions, according to Milenio.

Mexican drug cartel ‘apologises’ for deadly kidnapping of four Americans, blaming rogue members

Thursday 9 March 2023 18:40 , Josh Marcus

A Mexcian drug cartel has reportedly apologised for the killings of two American tourists at the hands of some of its members who mistook them for drug smugglers.

An unnamed Tamaulipas state law enforcement official provided a letter believed to be authored by the Gulf drug cartel to the Associated Press. In it, the criminal organisation promises it will turn over five men who kidnapped LaTavia McGee, Eric James Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown on 3 March.

The group was on their way to the office of a plastic surgeon in Matamoros when they were ambushed by several gunmen. Ms McGee and Mr Williams survived the attack and are back on US soil, but Woodard and Brown were killed by the time Mexican authorities found them on Tuesday.

The Gulf drug cartel has now said that the kidnappers went against the group’s rules of “respecting innocent people’s life.” A picture of the five men allegedly behind the abduction was also shared along with the note.

Andrea Blanco has the latest details.

Mexican drug cartel ‘apologises’ for deadly kidnapping of four Americans

Letter reveals potential Gulf cartel apology for kidnapped Americans

Thursday 9 March 2023 18:34 , Josh Marcus

An individual claiming to be from the cartel that allegedly kidnapped four Americans last week in Mexico, killing two of them, has apologised for the incident, pointing to a “lack of discipline” from those involved.

“We have decided to turn over those who were directly involved and responsible in the events, who at all times acted under their own decision-making and lack of discipline,” according to the letter, which was shared with the Associated Press by an anonymous Mexican law enforcement source.

The document said operatives from the Scorpions faction of the powerful Gulf cartel allegedly broke internal rules regarding “respecting the life and well-being of the innocent.”

The letter included a photo of five men bound and face down.

Mexico investigating potential drug motive in kidnappings

Thursday 9 March 2023 18:28 , Josh Marcus

Mexican officials are investigating whether cartel activity was tied into the kidnapping of four Americans in the border city of Matamoros, according to a document seen by Reuters.

“It cannot be ruled out that the attack against (the Americans) could be directly linked to drug trafficking operations,” according to the document.

Officials believe the US group, which ventured south seeking medical care, may have been mistakenly targeted by a drug cartel believing someone was encroaching on their turf.

Two of the Americans, identified as Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, were found dead on Monday outside of Matamoros, along with two surviving companions.

‘Clan del Golfo’ cartel likely behind the attack

Thursday 9 March 2023 17:52 , Andrea Blanco

Governor of Tamaulipas Américo Villarreal said during a press conference that the group was moved from different locations, including a clinic, during the three days that their kidnapping lasted in an attempt to throw off investigators.

Mr Villareal said that the “Clan del Golfo” is the cartel known to operate and control the area. Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica also said that Mexican officials believe members of the Gulf drug cartel are behind the attack.

A suspect, 24-year-old Jose N, has been arrested. The man was tasked with making sure that the victims didn’t escape and he was captured at the scene, Mr Villareal said.

A member of the Mexican security forces stands next to a white minivan with North Carolina plates and several bullet holes

At an early press conference on Tuesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed that the tragedy will be seized by the American media to portray Mexico as a dangerous country, in stark contrast with their “silence when Mexicans are killed in the US.”

He went on to say that GOP politicians will also use the crime as an opportunity to push “their agenda.”

“We continue to work every day towards peace and are very sorry that this has happened in our country,” President López Obrador said. “We send our condolences to the victims’ friends and family and the American people. And we will continue to work towards peace.”

PICTURED: First suspect arrested in Matamoros kidnapping

Thursday 9 March 2023 16:59 , Andrea Blanco

A picture of Jose Guadalupe “N” the person detained in the rescue operation is displayed during a press conference to give details after two American citizens were found dead in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, at Auditorium of Secretaria de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana on March 07, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Wife of American tourist who survived Mexico cartel kidnapping says she didn’t even know he’d left US

Thursday 9 March 2023 16:10 , Andrea Blanco

The wife of an American tourist who survived the horror kidnapping by a notorious Mexican drug cartel has revealed that she didn’t even know he had left the US.

Eric James Williams and his friend Latavia “Tay” McGee were rescued from a drug cartel “stash house” on Tuesday, four days after they were kidnapped by armed gunmen in Matamoros, Mexico, while on their way to a tummy tuck clinic.

Their two friends Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were killed in the horror attack.

Mr Williams’ wife Michelle has now spoken out to reveal that she hadn’t even known he was crossing the border into Mexico – and a border city largely ruled by the Gulf drug cartel.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the story:

Wife of American who survived Mexico cartel kidnapping didn’t know he’d left US

Zindell Brown had been wary about travelling to Mexico

Thursday 9 March 2023 15:32 , Andrea Blanco

Zindell Brown, one of the two Americans killed in the kidnapping, was concerned about the risks involved in travelling to Mexico, his sister told the Associated Press.

“Zindell kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go down,’” Zalandria Brown told the news organisation.

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

Americans deterred from travelling to Matamoros

Thursday 9 March 2023 14:43 , Andrea Blanco

The US State Department has advised Americans not to travel to Tamaulipas due to the risk of crime and kidnapping, with the region featuring on its “Level 4: Do Not Travel” list.

The US Consulate in Matamoros issued a warning to its employees on Friday in response to the latest outbreak of violence.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741 or to submit tips anonymously online here.

Republicans propose military intervention in cartel-dominated Mexico areas

Thursday 9 March 2023 14:00 , Andrea Blanco

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox News that he would introduce legislation to “set the stage” for using military force in Mexico to combat the drug cartel.

Mr Graham made the remarks on Jesse Watters’s show on Monday evening, saying he would “introduce legislation to make certain Mexican drug cartels foreign terrorist organizations under US law and set the stage to use military force if necessary.”

The Independent’s Eric Garcia has the story:

GOP calls for military response to murdered American tourists in Mexico

South Carolina community holds vigil

Thursday 9 March 2023 13:30 , Rachel Sharp

The South Carolina community which was home to the kidnapped Americans held a vigil on Wednesday in honour of the two victims killed and two survivors.

A prayer service was held at Word of God Outreach Ministries in Lake City, in the state’s Pee Dee region.

Around 40 local residents attended the event led by Pastor Herbert Godwin, lighting candles for the four victims.

Worshipper Barry Epp told The Associated Press that he grew up near Shaeed Woodard and Latavia McGee and played football with Zindell Brown.

He remembered Brown as a “quiet guy” and Woodard as a “good-spirited, friendly jokester”. Both men were found dead on Tuesday.

“You never know what tomorrow is going to bring,” he said. “You gotta love your people while they’re here.”

Photos show rescue of two American tourists from drug cartel stash house as dead friends identified

Thursday 9 March 2023 13:00 , Andrea Blanco

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamoros, Mexico (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamoros, Mexico (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Fifth American reveals lucky escape from Mexico cartel kidnapping after she forgot her ID

Thursday 9 March 2023 12:30 , Rachel Sharp

A fifth friend has revealed she had a lucky escape from the fatal Matamoros kidnapping after she was stopped at the US-Mexico border because she didn’t have a photo ID.

Cheryl Orange was part of the group of American childhood friends who drove from South Carolina to the border in Texas last week so that one of them – Latavia “Tay” McGee – could get a tummy tuck procedure.

Ms Orange told The Associated Press that she had forgotten to bring an identification card on the trip and so she was denied passage across the border.

That missing ID may well have saved her life.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

Fifth American reveals lucky escape from Mexico cartel kidnapping

How safe is it to seek healthcare in Mexico?

Thursday 9 March 2023 12:00 , Andrea Blanco

The killing of two US citizens on their way to a Mexican clinic is a stark warning for the nearly one million Americans who cross the border for medical care each year.

The Independent’s Io Dodds reports:

After the tummy tuck murders, how safe is it to seek healthcare in Mexico?