A Mexican official stated on Friday that five suspects connected to last week’s kidnapping and murder of a group of Americans along the border with Brownsville, Texas, had been detained.
Irving Barrios Mojica, the attorney general of Tamaulipas, said on Twitter that the warrants were for the charges of aggravated kidnapping and intentional simple homicide. An additional person was arrested in recent days, Barrios Mojica said.
Five vehicles, including a Lamborghini taken on American soil, were discovered in Matamoros as part of a coordinated operation by Mexican authorities, according to a subsequent tweet from Barrios Mojica on Thursday night.
After two Americans were killed in the daytime kidnappings on March 3, when four Americans crossed the border into Matamoros, Mexico, just south of the Texas border, the Gulf cartel issued an apology on Thursday.
In a letter acquired by The Associated Press, the cartel denounced the violence and claimed to have handed over those responsible. According to a senior law enforcement official who spoke to NBC News, US investigators consider the letter to be authentic.
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“The Gulf Cartel Grupo Escorpiones strongly condemns the events of Friday, March 3 in which unfortunately an innocent working mother died and four American citizens were kidnapped, of which two died,” a translation of the letter says.
“For this reason, we have decided to hand over those involved and directly responsible for the events who at all times acted under their own determination and indiscipline and against the rules in which the CDG has always operated.”
After arriving in Matamoros for medical treatment, the four Americans were fired at and taken hostage. Américo Villarreal, the governor of Tamaulipas state, announced at a press conference that two survivors of the kidnapping were a lady, LaTavia Washington McGee, and a guy, Eric Williams.
Both were transported to a clinic for medical attention before returning to the United States across a bridge between Matamoros and Brownsville. According to a law enforcement source who assisted in planning her trip there, McGee arrived at the Myrtle Beach International Airport in South Carolina on Thursday night. She received assistance from law enforcement as she left the airport.
Family members have named the two deceased victims Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown. The AP said that on Thursday, the remains of Woodard and Brown were delivered to American authorities in Brownsville.
The group, according to Mcee’s cousin Aliyah McCleod, is from South Carolina and had entered Matamoros in a rental car with North Carolina license plates. The group was characterized as Williams’ wife’s childhood buddies.
A fifth travel companion came from South Carolina. A law enforcement officer said the tourist left just before the party arrived at the border because they lacked the proper papers to enter Mexico. In a video that Williams captured, the fifth individual biked alongside the group.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the matter said a woman in the group had been seeking a cosmetic medical procedure. The official said cartel gunmen targeted the group in a case of mistaken identity.
The State Department issued a “Do Not Travel” Be on the lookout for Tamaulipas, as organized crimes like gunfights, murder, and kidnapping are frequently committed there, especially in Ciudad Victoria.
In its letter, the Gulf cartel said it respects the “life, tranquility and integrity of the innocent” and apologized to “the society of Matamoros … the affected American individuals, and families.”
“In addition the CDG asks society to remain calm because we are committed to ensure that these errors caused by indiscipline aren’t repeated. The guilty parties will pay, regardless of who they are,” the letter reads.
A 24-year-old man from Tamaulipas state, identified only as Jose N, “was found guarding the victims” and was arrested, Villarreal said. It’s not clear what charges he faces.