White House Addresses Security Situation in Mexico After 2 of 4 Kidnapped Americans Killed

White House Addresses Security Situation in Mexico After 2 of 4 Kidnapped Americans Killed
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds her first news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on May 16, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is continuing to work with the Mexican government after a group of four U.S. citizens were kidnapped in Matamoros, Mexico, last week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Two of the four Americans were killed while the other two were safely recovered. The four Americans who were kidnapped last week were identified as Latavia “Tay” McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and Eric James Williams. During the press briefing, Jean-Pierre did not specify which of the four Americans were killed and which had been recovered alive. At least one of the two individuals who had survived the kidnapping had been injured.

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, the White House said.

Matamoros is just across the U.S.-Mexico border, in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The State Department has issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for the northern Mexican state, on account of the high prevalence of violent crimes and kidnappings. The department currently provides a state-by-state summary of the safety conditions in Mexico.

“Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa to Nuevo Laredo,” the State Department travel advisory for Tamaulipas reads. “In these areas, local law enforcement has limited capacity to respond to incidents of crime.”

The U.S. warning also says U.S. government employees “may only travel within a limited radius around and between the U.S. Consulates in Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, their homes, the respective U.S. Ports of Entry, and limited downtown sites, subject to an overnight curfew.”

Biden Admin Stance on Cartels

The White House said the Biden administration has been focused on combatting cartels like the one that likely kidnapped these four Americans.

“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.

Former President Donald Trump previously indicated he would designate Mexican drug cartels as terror organizations and help the Mexican government “wage war” on them after three women and six children of dual U.S.-Mexican nationality were killed in an ambush in northern Mexico in November 2019. In January of this year, Trump said he would use the full force of the U.S. military against the cartels if he wins the presidency again in 2024.

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