As it happenedended1678545984

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

Video captured the abduction of Americans LaTavia ‘Tay’ McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown and Eric James Williams in border city of Matamoros

Andrea Blanco,Joe Sommerlad,Graeme Massie
Saturday 11 March 2023 14:46 GMT

Related: Drug cartels using drones to pinpoint Border Agents’ locations

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.

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.

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The Gulf drug cartel’s ‘apology'

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.”

Andrea Blanco9 March 2023 21:15
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Wife of American kidnapping victim didn’t even know he’d left US

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

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

Andrea Blanco9 March 2023 22:20
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Mexico town Americans were kidnapped was site of horror 1989 murder of spring breaker Mark Kilroy

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

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

Andrea Blanco9 March 2023 23:30
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Mexican drug cartel ‘apologises’ for deadly kidnapping of four Americans

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

An unnamed Tamaulipas state law enforcement official leaked a letter believed to be authored by the Gulf drug cartel

Andrea Blanco10 March 2023 02:30
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Fifth American tourist reveals lucky escape

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

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

Graeme Massie10 March 2023 03:04
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Mexican president to US: Fentanyl is your problem

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.

Andrea Blanco10 March 2023 03:30
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Girl, 8, kidnapped from Washington state mall in 2018 found alive in Mexico

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

Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez found in Michoacán, Mexico, in February and returned to US

Andrea Blanco10 March 2023 04:30
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American killed in Mexico kidnapping tried to cancel tummy tuck trip over drug cartel fears

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.

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.

Andrea Blanco10 March 2023 05:30
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US State Department warns against travel to cartel-ridden Mexican states

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”.

Andrea Blanco10 March 2023 07:30
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What happened to the four Americans ensnared in a deadly Mexico cartel kidnapping?

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?

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. Andrea Blanco and Joe Sommerlad report

Andrea Blanco10 March 2023 10:30

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