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Mexican drug cartel ‘apologises’ for deadly kidnapping of four Americans, blaming rogue members

An unnamed Tamaulipas state law enforcement official leaked a letter believed to be authored by the Gulf drug cartel

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 09 March 2023 20:37 GMT
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Two Americans found dead after violent Mexico kidnapping
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A Mexcian drug cartel has reportedly apologised for the deadly kidnapping of four Americans, claiming five of its members went rogue after mistaking the tourists for drug smugglers.

An unnamed Tamaulipas state law enforcement official provided a letter believed to be authored by the Gulf drug cartel to the Associated Press. In it, the criminal organisation promised to turn over five men who kidnapped LaTavia “Tay” McGee, Eric James Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown on 3 March.

The Americans were on their way to the office of a plastic surgeon in Matamoros when they were ambushed by several gunmen. Ms McGee and Mr Williams survived the attack and are back on US soil, but Woodard and Brown were killed by the time Mexican authorities found them on Tuesday.

The Gulf drug cartel has now said that the kidnappers went against the group’s rules of “respecting innocent people’s life.” The letter apologised to residents of Matamoros who witnessed the shooting, the families of the American victims and of a Mexican woman who died after she was caught in the gunfire.

A picture of the five alleged suspects face down on the pavement and with their hands tied was also shared with the AP. They were later found by Mexican law enforcement, another official who also spoke under the condition of anonymity told the outlet.

(Reynosa Codigo Rojo/Facebook)

“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, according to the AP.

Mexico prosecutors have not confirmed new arrests in the case.

Mr Williams’ cousin told the AP that the kidnapping survivor has not accepted the apology from the cartel.

“It ain’t gonna change nothing about the suffering that we went through,” Jerry Wallace said, noting that US and Mexico officials must address the rampant violence stemming from cartel operations.

An extended version of the letter shared by local media also read: “The Gulf drug cartel Scorpion section decries the attack on 3 March, in which a working [Mexican] mother was killed and four American citizens were kidnapped. Two of them were also killed.

“ [The five members] went against the Gulf drug carter’s rules of respecting the life and integrity of innocent people. We apologise to residents of Matamoros ... and the American families affected.”

“The Gulf cartel asks the community to be calm because we’re committed to ensuring that these types of mistakes are not made ever again and making those who are guilty pay.”

(Reynosa Codigo Rojo/Facebook)

The Scorpion faction is known to dominate the Matamoros area and responds with violence when other criminal organisations threaten to operate in the territory.

The missing American citizens were found in a rural area east of Matamoros called Ejido Longoreño on the way to the local beach known as Playa Baghdad.

Ms McGee was unharmed while Mr Williams suffered gunshot wounds to his legs.

They returned to the US on the same day of their rescue and are being treated at a hospital in Texas.

Autopsies on the bodies of the two victims killed have been completed and the remains are expected to be repatriated to the US, according to CNN. Officials familiar with the investigation previously told the network that they believe a Mexican cartel mistook the victims for Haitian drug smugglers.

According to official documents reviewed by Reuters, Mexican investigators have also conducted deep background checks on the four victims, whichflagged Williams and Woodard’s past drug convictions.

A suspect, 24-year-old Jose “N,” was also arrested on the day of the rescue as he guarded the site of the kidnapping.

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