An unsettling video has recently emerged featuring four US citizens moments before getting kidnapped in Mexico on Friday, March 3. The four individuals can be seen being forced into the back of a pickup truck after being fired at.
According to US authorities, the Americans kidnapped were not the actual targets. Investigators are considering the possibility that a Mexican cartel mistook the Americans for Haitian drug smugglers.
Disclaimer: This video may be disturbing to some audiences. Viewer discretion advised.
The US Embassy in Mexico City mentioned that the kidnapped individuals were in the city of Matamoros in Tamaulipas. They drove there in a minivan that had a North Carolina license plate.
The FBI San Antonio Division office confirmed the kidnapping on Friday and has also offered a reward of $50,000 for the return of the Americans and the arrest of the perpetrators.
Authorities eventually found the victims on Tuesday, March 7, but two of them were discovered dead. Their cause of death is yet to be determined.
Who were the victims in the Mexico kidnapping?
Two families eventually identified the victims. One of them, Latavia “Tay” Washington McGee was in Mexico to undergo medical treatment. McGee was accompanied by Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and a man named Eric. The same was confirmed by Latavia’s mother and Zindell’s sister.
The Americans were kidnapped following a shootout that happened at the scene. The viral video of the incident captured men wearing bulletproof vests dragging a person off the ground. They were seen pushing a woman into the pickup truck. Later, the suspects grabbed two other men who appeared to be injured or dead and tossed their bodies inside the van.
The Governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villarreal, reportedly informed about the victims being found by authorities in a wooden house in Lagunona.
During a telephonic interview, Zindell Brown's sister said:
“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.”
The sister continued by saying that the four friends were aware of the onging security concerns in Mexico, and still decided to go for it. Zindell, however, did allegedly voice his concerns regarding the trip. Brown's sister said:
"Zindell kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go down.’"
It was revealed that along with the four victims abducted on Friday, a Mexican woman also died in the shooting that took place in the area.
Official responses to the incident
Speaking about the incident, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican President, said:
“The information we have is that they crossed the border to buy medicines in Mexico, there was a confrontation between the groups and they were detained. The whole government is working on it.”
Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica spoke about the kidnapping at a news conference:
“From the first moment, communication was established between state and federal authorities to address the criminal event in which two affected vehicles were located, one of them with license plates from the US state of North Carolina.”
Sergio Chavez, Tamaulipas Public Security Minister, also addressed the incident and said:
“We had a problem, despite which the prosecutor’s office opened a file, which is that we have no report of the disappearance of these people, so there was speculation about where they came from.”
The US State Department issues advisory
The State Department has now issued a travel warning for Tamaulipas and urged US citizens not to enter the region.
The advisory states:
“Criminal groups target public and private passenger busses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments.”
Upon investigation, it was revealed that none of the US citizens who were abducted in Mexico had any criminal history. It is not yet clear if the kidnapping could be linked to gun violence in the region.