Deaths of two Americans in Mexico: what we know
< /p> UPDATE DAY
Two of the four Americans abducted Friday by gunmen in Matamoros, in northeastern Mexico, on the border with the United States, were found dead on Tuesday. Here's what we know about the case, which authorities say is involved a drug cartel.
What were they doing in Mexico?< /strong>
The four Americans, three men and one woman have been identified by US media as Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown — the two fatal victims — Eric James Williams — found injured — and Latavia McGee. All four had crossed the Mexican border on Friday, as one of them had to undergo cosmetic surgery at a local clinic.
This version, based on statements by their relatives to the American press, is corroborated by documents found in their vehicle, including laboratory analyzes, according to the governor of the state of Tamaulipas, Americo Villarreal.
The latter, on the other hand, rejected press reports that they worked for the FBI. “There is no reason to believe that they have any connection with the FBI,” assured Mr. Villarreal.
< p>The four Americans entered Mexican territory on Friday at 9:18 a.m. local time (3:18 p.m. GMT) in a white minivan with a North Carolina license plate.
CCTV footage shows their journey through the streets from the center of Matamoros from 11:12 a.m. local time. A few minutes later, they begin to be followed, first by a sedan, then by three other vehicles.
At 11.45 a.m., the cameras show their minivan being intercepted. Four armed men get out of a vehicle and then, quickly, three others arrive, including a white pick-up in which, according to images posted on social networks, the Americans are forcibly embarked.
“The track that it was a misunderstanding (by the criminals) and not a deliberate attack is getting stronger,” said Tamaulipas State Attorney Irving Barrios.
The four Americans at one point try to escape from the vehicle, in the middle of heavy traffic, but their captors shoot them. They fall to the ground, according to a document from the prosecutor's office illustrated with some screenshots. The three men were injured, the woman was unharmed.
A 33-year-old Mexican woman died nearby, probably the victim of a stray bullet.
The kidnappers drag the loaded hostages unceremoniously into the back of the pick-up, then set off with a bang.
The prosecution does not specify whether the escape attempt took place at the very place where the kidnappers Americans were intercepted initially or in another area of the city.
Captivity and release
Governor Americo Villarreal assured that during the three days that The hostage-taking lasted, the victims were taken to different places in the city, including a clinic, in order to “cover their tracks”.
The searches remained fruitless until Monday, because some of the clues received would have been provided “in order to mislead the authorities”, admitted the prosecutor Irving Barrios.
Investigators have visited at least six hospitals in the city and investigated several avenues, but without success. The FBI had offered a $50,000 reward for any assistance in freeing the hostages and apprehending the suspects.
It was finally on the outskirts of Matamoros, in a wooden house located near a lagoon, that the hostages were found. Two were dead, one was injured in the leg. The latter and the woman found unharmed were repatriated on Tuesday.
So far, only one person has been arrested. He is a 24-year-old man from the state of Tamaulipas and identified as José Guadalupe “N”. He was guarding the hostages at the time of their release.
Prosecutor Barrios insisted that there was currently no evidence to determine to which criminal organization the arrested man belonged. He however indicated that “the criminal group known to operate in this region is the Gulf Cartel”.
The American Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, expressed the concern of the American government over “control exercised by the Gulf Cartel in the region”, one of the most dangerous in the country due to the risks of kidnapping and extortion by criminal groups.