Mexican cartel apologises for kidnapping.
The US State Department is renewing its Mexico travel warning to Americans ahead of spring break, in the wake of a deadly kidnapping near a US-Mexico border town.
On March 3, Eric James Williams of Winston-Salem, NC, and three friends were kidnapped during a cartel shootout in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
Williams, 38, and Latavia “Tay” McGee, 35, were found in a shack east of Matamoros by Tuesday and were rushed back to the US for medical care in Brownsville. However, their two friends, Shaeed Woodard, 33, and Zindell Brown, were killed.
While the motive is unknown, Mexican authorities are not ruling out the possibility that the Americans may have been targeted due to drug trafficking.
The high-profile case, which sent shockwaves through the nation, has led to the US government issuing a Level 4 travel advisory for six Mexican states, including Tamaulipas where the abductions took place.
It lists the Mexican states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas as “do not travel” zones due to kidnappings or crime.
Level four travel warnings are also instituted in places such as North Korea and Afghanistan.
“Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico,” the US Department stated.
“The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted.”
Violence around border cities is not unusual and can involve Mexicans or migrants with little public attention, but it typically doesn’t include Americans. Officials said the abduction may have been a case of mistaken identity, but the FBI is investigating further.
On Thursday, drug cartel members handed over five purported henchmen as a would-be apology for the abduction of the four Americans.
The Scorpions faction of the Gulf Cartel apologised to the residents of Matamoros, the Mexican woman who died in the cartel shootout, and the four Americans and their families.
“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, adding that those individuals had gone against the cartel’s rules, which include “respecting the life and wellbeing of the innocent.”