Mexican Police Arrest Suspect in Connection With Kidnapping, Murder of Americans

Mexican Police Arrest Suspect in Connection With Kidnapping, Murder of Americans
A woman is carried to the back of a white pickup truck in this still image obtained from social media video that allegedly shows the kidnapping of Americans in Matamoros, Mexico, on March 3, 2023. (Video obtained by Reuters)

Mexican police have arrested a suspect in connection with the kidnapping of four U.S. citizens in Matamoros last week, officials said.

Mexico’s Secretary for Security and Citizen Protection Rosa Icela Rodriguez Velazquez identified the suspect as Jose Guadalupe, 24, at a press conference, according to local reports.

Guadalupe had reportedly been guarding the house where kidnapped Americans Latavia “Tay” McGee, 35, Shaeed Woodard, 33,  Zindell Brown, believed to be in his mid-20s, and Eric James Williams, 38, had been held captive and tortured.

The Americans were located on Tuesday morning in a small wooden house in a field outside Matamoros, according to Americo Villarreal, the governor of Tamaulipas, where Matamoros is located.

Two of them, Woodward and Brown, had already died by the time they were found, according to officials.

The survivors were taken to Brownsville in Texas, the New York Post reported. The wife of Williams told CNN that he had been shot in the leg. It is unclear if McGee sustained any injuries.

“Derived from the joint search actions, the four American citizens deprived of their liberty last Friday were found,” Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica said on Twitter. “Unfortunately, two dead. Investigation and intelligence work continue to capture those responsible. Details will be given later.”

Survivors Return to US

In a later post, Barrios confirmed that the two survivors were taken to the border and handed over to U.S. authorities.

Attorney General Merrick Garland also said in a statement on Tuesday that two of the Americans were killed and another injured.

“The two surviving Americans are now receiving medical treatment in the United States,” Garland said.

All four American citizens were assaulted and kidnapped in Mexico on March 3, shortly after they crossed into Matamoros in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates, according to the FBI.

Authorities have not named the Americans but each of the individuals has been identified by family members. The FBI had offered a reward of $50,000 for their return.

“Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen fired upon the passengers in the vehicle. All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Sunday.

Video footage posted on Twitter allegedly shows the moment the Americans were held at gunpoint and forced into the back of a white pickup truck by men who appeared to be wearing bulletproof vests and carrying long rifles.

McGee’s mother, Barbara Burgess, told ABC that her daughter traveled from South Carolina to Mexico to undergo a cosmetic medical procedure.

State Department Updates Travel Advice

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have all been working in collaboration with Mexican authorities following the kidnapping incident.

“We’re still working with Mexican officials to learn more and to have all Americans returned to the United States. President [Joe] Biden has been kept updated on this incident. Senior members of the White House have also been engaged,” Jean-Pierre said at a press conference.

“We will continue to work closely with the Mexican government to ensure justice is done in this case. Since day one of this administration, we have been focused on disrupting transnational criminal organizations, including Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that Washington was in touch with the families of the individuals.

Following the kidnapping, the State Department issued an advisory warning Americans not to travel to the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, citing increasing violent criminal activity and kidnappings

The department states that “organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria.”

According to the advisory, criminal groups in the state regularly target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments.

The Epoch Times has contacted Mexican authorities for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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