On Friday, the four, traveling in a van with South Carolina license plates, drove into Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.
Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Four Americans who traveled to Mexico last week for medical attention were implicated in a fatal drug-related shooting and were kidnapped by heavily armed men who threw them into the back of a pickup truck, officials from both countries said Monday. .
All four entered Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, on Friday. They were traveling in a white minivan with South Carolina license plates, officials said.
Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador said on Monday that four Americans were going to buy medicine and were caught in the crossfire between two armed groups, without giving details.
“These are people from the US, and we have information that they crossed the border to buy drugs in Mexico, there was a clash between the groups and they were arrested,” Lopez Obrador said.
A video posted to social media on Friday showed militants, some in brown body armor, loading four people onto a pickup truck in broad daylight. One was alive and sitting, but the rest looked dead or injured.
This matches the description of what the FBI says happened.
The FBI office in San Antonio said the car came under fire shortly after it entered Mexico.
“All four Americans were loaded into a vehicle and taken away from the scene by armed men,” the bureau said in a statement. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for returning victims and apprehending perpetrators.
Matamoros is home to warring factions of the Gulf drug cartel, and the shooting in Matamoros was so horrendous that the US consulate issued a danger alert and local authorities on Friday warned people to take cover.
Tamaulipas State Police said at least one Mexican woman was killed on Friday. The state police said that neither the police nor the military were involved in Friday’s shooting.
“There were two armed incidents between unidentified civilians,” the state police said Friday on social media. “The exact number of casualties has been confirmed.”
The issue of cartel violence continues to be a hot topic, especially in Texas.
In fact, on Friday, the same day as the kidnapping, Republican Senator John Cornyn spoke with lawmakers about Mexico’s fight against the cartels. They visited several cities in the Rio Grande Valley, including Brownsville.
The victims of violence in Matamoros and other major Tamaulipas border towns are often countless because the cartels have a history of taking their bodies with them. Local media often avoid reporting on such incidents for security reasons, creating an information vacuum.
Videos posted to social media on Friday show gunmen loading two bodies into a truck in broad daylight.
The U.S. Department of State Travel Advice for Tamaulipas warns U.S. citizens against traveling there. However, as a border city, US citizens living in Brownsville or elsewhere in Texas often cross the border to visit family, attend medical appointments, or shop. It will also be a waypoint for people traveling further into Mexico.
For years, late-night entertainment in Matamoros has also been part of the “two-nation celebration” spring break that flocked to Texas’ South Padre Island. But the increase in violence over the past 10-15 years has scared away much of this business.
The FBI said the van the victims were traveling in on Friday had North Carolina license plates, but authorities did not provide any other details about who they were or where they came from.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said the license plates were from North Carolina.
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first appeared on Texas Standard News.