4 Americans missing, 1 Mexican bystander dies after shootout near Texas border
By Belle Carter // Mar 07, 2023

Four Americans who crossed the Texas border went missing and a Mexican bystander died after getting caught in a shootout in Matamoros, a northeastern city in Mexico, on Friday, March 3.

United States ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said in a statement on Monday that the Americans were kidnapped at gunpoint and an "innocent" Mexican citizen got killed in the attack. The four, who were said to have crossed into Mexico from Texas to get healthcare, were in a white minivan with North Carolina (NC) license plates, the FBI San Antonio division office said in a statement, confirming that a $50,000 reward has been placed for the return of the victims.

"Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen shot the passengers of the vehicle. The gunmen herded the four U.S. citizens into another vehicle and fled the scene with them," according to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

A video posted to social media on Friday shows armed men, some wearing tan body armor, who loaded four people into the bed of a pickup truck in broad daylight. The woman was alive and sitting up, but the others appeared to be either dead or wounded.

ABC News reported that the victims have been identified as Latavia "Tay" McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown and Eric James Williams. Sources close to the Mexican investigation also mentioned that Williams' NC driver's license was found at the scene.

Barbara Burgess, 54, McGee's mother, told the media outlet that her daughter traveled from South Carolina to Mexico for a cosmetic medical procedure and that before the trip, she warned her not to go.

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Meanwhile, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said during his daily press conference on Monday that the four were going to buy medicine and ended up in the crossfire between two armed groups, without offering details. He assured that the "entire Mexican government is there working on the case."

Jean-Pierre said Biden informed of the assault, declined to address other questions due to "privacy concerns"

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden is "aware and has been informed" of the four missing U.S. citizens. The State Department, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Mexican authorities are working together on the case, she said.

She declined to answer other questions, citing privacy concerns.

Matamoros is home to warring factions of the Gulf drug cartel as leadership changes have led to bloody infighting. Shootouts last week were so bad that the U.S. consulate issued an alert about the danger and local authorities warned people to shelter in place. The alert also reminded U.S. citizens that this particular part of Mexico is a "Level 4: Do Not Travel," which is the highest warning in the government's travel advisory system.

"Organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria," the State Department reported. "Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments."

The consulate in Matamoros has posted at least four security alerts since February 2020, warning of drug cartel violence, crime, kidnappings and clashes involving armed groups.

CBS News noted that three American siblings disappeared near Matamoros in October 2014 and were later found shot and burned. They had disappeared two weeks earlier while visiting their father in Mexico. Their parents said they had been abducted by men dressed in police uniforms identifying themselves as "Hercules," a tactical security unit in the violent border city.

"Victims of violence in Matamoros and other large border cities of Tamaulipas often go uncounted, because the cartels have a history of disappearing the bodies of their victims. Local media often avoid reporting on such incidents out of safety concerns," the news agency reported. (Related: Crimes at the border: Illegal immigrants, illegal drugs flow freely in southwest border.)

Head to Violence.news for more stories related to violent crimes.

Watch the video below that shows the Mexico kidnapping incident.

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More related stories:

Mexico considers deploying national guard troops to defend high-crime highways and put a stop to cargo theft.

Californians now so desperate to escape state they are moving to Mexico to avoid inflation, crime.

Biden committing another impeachable offense by refusing to assert "operational control" over U.S.-Mexico border: Report.

Wisconsin airs warning over 97% rise in fentanyl deaths from 2019 to 2021 as southern border drug smuggling pipeline remains wide open.

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