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A Manhunt Is on After Two Americans Killed, Two Rescued After Alleged Kidnapping by Mexican Drug Gang; Here’s What We Know

The federal government is investigating incidents of international homicide after two Americans traveling with a group to Mexico for medical tourism were kidnapped and killed by members of a local drug gang.

Two other U.S. citizens have been rescued, leaving officials to figure out why they were targeted by the thugs.

On Tuesday, March 7, Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica told the public that officials have located the four people, Latavia Washington McGee, Zindell Brown, Shaeed Woodard, and Eric James Williams, who went missing on Friday, March 3, in a town on the border of Mexico and the U.S.

Four Americans Kidnapped in Mexico
Latavia Washington McGee, Zindell Brown, Shaeed Woodard, and Eric James Williams were reportedly kidnapped on March 3, 2023, during a medical trip to Mexico. (Photos: YouTube screenshot/WFAA)

Barrios Mojica also noted that not all were healthy and alive, saying, “Unfortunately, two [were found] dead.”

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price is calling for someone in the Mexican government to take some accountability for the death and kidnapping of the American citizens.

“We want to see accountability for the violence that has been inflicted on these Americans that tragically led to the death of two of them,” Price said.

Continuing with a laser focus on the drug cartels and identifying them as terrorist organizations, he said, “When it comes to the drug cartels, we’re going to do what is most effective to limit their ability to traffic in their wares.”

“This is something that our colleagues at the DEA are extremely focused on. We have laws on the books, we have designated these criminal organizations, these drug trafficking organizations, consistent with the authorities that we as a government have,” Price explained.

According to CNN, the four traveled to northeastern Mexico from South Carolina to support Washington McGee during a scheduled medical procedure in Matamoros, just below Brownsville, Texas. Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal said around 9:18 a.m., the Americans went off the radar after crossing the international bridge into the city.

Friends told authorities a day after the group went missing that they had reached out to the doctor’s office seeking information. Authorities told a friend of Washington McGee that the group got lost trying to find the clinic. The group also attempted to get directions by reaching out to the doctor’s office, but the call dropped in an area with poor service.

“When I reached out to the doctor’s office, they told me that Latavia had reached out to them to ask them for directions because she was lost,” the person explained. “They sent me a screenshot of the messages, and they said they sent her the address and asked her if she was using a GPS.”

On Sunday, March 5, the FBI told Barbara Burgess, the mother of the woman who planned the trip, McGee, that her daughter had been kidnapped and was in danger.

This was not the first time that McGee traveled to Mexico for surgery. According to Burgess, her daughter received surgery between two and three years prior to this visit.

The 33-year-old mother of six never made it to the surgery, noted Burgess.

The FBI reported two and a half hours after the travelers crossed the border, unidentified gunmen started shooting at them. When the shooters came upon them, they placed them in a vehicle and drove away.

Receipts from the trip were found in the tourists’ vehicle, proving their purpose, an official confirmed.

The Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador also confirmed why the four were in the country, saying, “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. The whole government is working on it.”

After an initial Investigation, it is believed by law enforcement that the quartet was mistaken by a Mexican cartel as Haitian drug smugglers, prompting their kidnapping.

The San Antonio FBI office notes the four Americans were driving a white minivan with North Carolina plates when they arrived in the city of Matamoros on Friday. That is when they were targeted by the gang.

Tamaulipas governor Américo Villarreal Anaya, who is also working with the Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said “ambulances and security personnel” were tending to the care of the two American survivors, CNN reports.

Barrios Mojica said, according to USA Today, the Americans were located on Tuesday around 8 a.m. inside a house outside Matamoros.

A person standing guard over the Americans has been arrested, but his identity has not been released. The bodies of the deceased were examined by Mexican authorities before being turned over to the United States government. It is hoped that an autopsy will determine the time and cause of their deaths.

The FBI secured the other survivors of the ordeal and brought them back to Texas to have their injuries treated by medical professionals in a hospital.

Barrios Mojica tweeted about the release of the survivors, commenting, “Federal and state corporations, with Consulate personnel #EUA in #Matamoros delivered 2 citizens of that country on an international bridge, located today after they were deprived of their liberty on March 3.

The Mexican government returned the two survivors to the U.S. with a convoy of Mexican ambulances and SUVs. The vehicles were “escorted by Mexican military Humvees, armored vehicles, state police and the National Guard in trucks with mounted .50-caliber machine guns.”

US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salaza disclosed a Mexican citizen was also killed during the incident but said, “We have no higher priority than the safety of our citizens.” She was shot by a stray bullet during the kidnapping.

“This is the most fundamental role of the US government. Officials from various US law enforcement agencies are working with Mexican authorities at all levels of government to achieve the safe return of our compatriots,” Salaza said.

Barrios Mojica said, “Investigation and intelligence work continues [in an effort] to capture those responsible.”

Both nations are reportedly working together to find all of the perpetrators. On the American front, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice is “working closely” with the State Department to get justice for the four citizens.

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