Last Friday, four Black Americans were attacked and kidnapped by a gunman in Mexico. On Tuesday, two of the four group members were found dead while the other two were found alive.
“Two of them are dead, one person is injured and the other is alive,” Américo Villarreal, the governor of Tamaulipas, Mexico, announced during a news conference, according to the New York Times. “Ambulances and the rest of the security personnel are on their way right now to offer support.”
It all started when the four Americans drove into the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, from Brownsville, Texas, in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates. One member of the group was there for a cosmetic procedure, which tends to be far less expensive in Mexico than they are in the states, and the other three were presumably there to support her. The FBI reported that at some point during the trip, a gunman opened fire on the vehicle.
From the Times:
The gunmen then put the Americans in another vehicle and drove them away.
During the episode, “an innocent Mexican citizen” was killed, according to Ken Salazar, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. He said on Monday that multiple U.S. law enforcement agencies were working with the Mexican authorities to find and rescue the missing Americans.
While it is common for Americans to get entangled in violence in northern Mexico, a shared border nearly 2,000 miles long with large swaths dominated by drug cartels and criminal organizations, it is not very common for U.S. nationals to be kidnapped in Mexico.
So, why were the members of this group targeted?
Well, according to CNN, U.S. officials said Investigators believe a Mexican drug cartel likely mistook them for Haitian drug smugglers. Meanwhile, a friend of the woman who reportedly traveled to Mexico for a tummy tuck was identified along with her companions to CNN. The friend, who wished to remain anonymous, told CNN that 33-year-old Latavia “Tay” Washington McGee, a mother of six, made the trip across the border with friends Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown and Eric Williams.
She last heard from Washington McGee on Friday morning when she sent her a video message letting her know she had made it to Mexico.
But Washington McGee’s family and friends became concerned on Saturday when they didn’t hear from the group.
“Her other cousin, who previously went with her to Matamoros for the first procedure, made a post asking if anyone’s heard from her,” Washington McGee’s friend told CNN.
She told CNN that when she spoke to Washington McGee’s cousin, she became increasingly concerned when the cousin told her that the doctor’s office had reached out to her asking about Washington McGee because she never made it to the surgery.
“We’ve been calling all of their phones and it’s just going to voicemail. I called her mom too and she told me she hasn’t been able to contact them either. That’s when I knew something was wrong,” said the friend.
The Times noted that just a few days before the kidnapping, another American citizen was shot and killed by the Mexican military in Tamaulipas while he and his friends were driving back from a nightclub.
As for the latest travesty in the Mexican state, John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Tuesday that the U.S. is “still working with Mexican officials to learn more and to have all four victims returned to the United States.”
“Attacks on U.S. citizens are unacceptable, no matter where or under what circumstances they occur,” Kirby said, according to CNN. “And we’re going to work closely with the Mexican government to ensure that justice is done in this case. Right now, our immediate concerns are the safe return of our citizens, the health and the well-being of those who survived his attack.”
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