Shocking footage shows the moment when two US citizens were rescued from a warehouse in Mexico, where they were being held hostage by cartel members.
LaTavia “Tay” McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown and Eric James Williams were abducted on Friday (March 3) in Matamoros, an area dominated by the Gulf drug cartel. Videos circulating online showed the group, who had traveled from South Carolina, being thrown into a truck by gunmen after a gunfight in broad daylight.
Mexican authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Ms. McGee and Mr. Williams were returned to US officials at the Mexican border in Brownsville, Texas. Ms. McGee was unharmed while Mr. Williams suffered a gunshot wound to his right leg, but is expected to recover.
Photos by the Associated Press showed the moment when the two survivors were rescued by Mexican authorities. They were found in a storehouse in a rural area east of Matamoros called Ejido Longoreño on the way to the local beach known as Playa Baghdad, a source close to the investigation told the AP.
Mr Woodard and Mr Brown were found dead.
Governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villarreal, said at a press conference that during the three days their abduction lasted, the group had been moved from several locations, including a clinic, in an attempt to throw off investigators.
They were eventually found in a storehouse after Mexican authorities were called Tuesday morning. A suspect, 24-year-old Jose N, has been arrested.
The man had to make sure the victims did not escape and he was apprehended on the spot, Villareal said.
Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica said Mexican authorities believed members of the Gulf drug cartel were behind the attack. US officials familiar with the investigation told CNN authorities believe a Mexican cartel mistook the victims for Haitian drug smugglers.
At an early press conference on Tuesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed the tragedy will be used by the US media to portray Mexico as a dangerous country, in stark contrast to their “silence when Mexicans are killed in the US”.
He went on to say that GOP politicians will also use the crime as an opportunity to push “their agenda.”
“We continue to work every day for peace and are very sorry that this has happened in our country,” said President López Obrador. said. “We extend our condolences to the friends and family of the victims and the American people. And we will continue to work for peace.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that attacks on American citizens under any circumstances are unacceptable.
Ms Jean-Pierre said more information will be released after family members of the two fatalities and two kidnapping survivors have been notified of any developments in the case by US officials.
She also noted that the Biden administration remains committed to “disrupting transnational criminal organizations, including Mexican drug cartels and people smugglers.”
Officials familiar with the investigation previously told CNN authorities believe a Mexican cartel mistook the victims for Haitian drug smugglers.
“In recent months, President Biden signed an executive order giving the Treasury Department expanded powers to sanction cartel organizations and those who control or enable them, and we have imposed strong new sanctions on cartel organizations in recent weeks,” said Ms. Jean – said Pierre.
“We remain committed to using the full weight of our efforts and resources to counter them. Straight away. our immediate concerns are the safe return of our citizens, the health and well-being of those who survived this attack, and the support to be provided to the families of those in need.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also condemned the attack on US citizens and promised justice for their families.
“We appreciate the hard work of the Justice Department, the FBI and DEA and the Department of Homeland Security…we are grateful for their prompt response to this terrible incident and for their continued cooperation with Mexican authorities,” Kirby said. to reporters.
“We will work closely with the Mexican government to ensure that justice is done in this case.”
Asked if the White House is considering policy changes in response to the attack, Mr Kirby said there were no immediate remedies but insisted that US authorities work extensively to recover the bodies of the fatal victim and survivors on American soil.
“Right now our focus is entirely on these four Americans and the families affected by the attack and I think you will hear more from the Justice Department as they learn more and have more to say,” he added please. “But it’s just too early for me to speak about any policy changes or vectors as a result of this attack.”