Related: Drug Cartels Use to Track Border Agents’ Locations
The two Americans who survived a horror kidnapping in the cartel-dominated Matamoros region of Mexico are now back on US soil – while the bodies of their two slain friends are to be repatriated.
Latvia “Tay” McGee and Eric James Williams are currently being treated at a Texas hospital after being rescued from a drug cartel “house” on Tuesday.
Mexican officials are conducting autopsies on the bodies of their two friends, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, before their bodies are returned to the US.
The shocking incident began on Friday when the group of four friends traveled to Matamoros for Ms. McGee to undergo a tummy tuck. The video shows the group being thrown into a truck by gunmen at noon after a shootout, prompting a day-long search.
But before embarking on the fateful journey, Brown told his sister Zalandria Brown that he was concerned about the dangers of visiting the cartel-dominated area.
“Zindel kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go down,'” Ms. Brown said Associated Press. “To see a member of your family thrown into the back of a truck and dragged away, it’s just unbelievable.”
Survivor’s mother “warned” her about the deadly trip to Mexico
Ms McGee’s mother, Barbara Burgess, said she was worried about her daughter going and warned her it might not be safe. But her daughter allayed her worries by telling her, “Mom, I’ll be okay.”
Ms Burgess last heard from Ms McGee on Friday, when she called to say she was just 15 minutes away from the plastic surgeon’s surgery where she was scheduled to have the procedure that day. She never heard from her daughter again.
Ms Burgess said she tried to call Ms McGee later that day but her phone went straight to voicemail.
Shortly after, he said he received a visit from an FBI agent, revealing what had happened.
Mr. Brown’s sister, Zalandria Brown, told the AP: “It’s like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from.”
Andrea BlancoMarch 9, 2023 06:00
US officials advise against travel to Matamoros
The US consulate in Matamoros issued a warning to its employees on Friday in response to the latest outbreak of violence.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741 or submit tips anonymously online here.
Andrea BlancoMarch 9, 2023 05:00
Mexico Kidnapping Map: Where were four US citizens kidnapped at gunpoint in Matamoros?
Four Americans crossed the US-Mexico border on March 3 in their white minivan, where they were ambushed by gunmen
Andrea BlancoMarch 9, 2023 04:00
The shocking moment four American citizens were kidnapped
A video widely shared on social media, reportedly shot in the city on Friday, shows people crawling and jumping into the back of a white truck parked in the middle of a busy street by armed men wearing bulletproof vests.
The video has not been officially verified and the FBI has not made any public comment on it.
Matamoros is notorious as a center for gang violence and illegal immigration.
Andrea BlancoMarch 9, 2023 03:00
Two of the four Americans kidnapped in Mexico have been found dead
Two Americans in a group of four friends who were kidnapped during a trip to Mexico last week have been found dead.
The group was taken hostage on Friday (3 March) after entering the state of Tamaulipas in Matamoros – an area dominated by the Gulf Cartel.
Tamaulipa Governor Américo Villarreal revealed in a telephone call during a press conference Tuesday afternoon that two of the victims, Said Woodard and Zindel Brown, were found dead.
Eric James Williams suffered a leg injury while LaTavia “Tay” McGee was unharmed — she’s back in the US, according to the Tamaulipas Attorney General.
Andrea BlancoMarch 9, 2023 02:00
Survivor’s wife says she didn’t know about the trip to Mexico
The wife of one of the two Americans who survived a kidnapping in Mexico has revealed she didn’t even know he had left the US.
Eric James Williams and Latvian “Tay” McGee were found alive in a drug cartel “home” on Tuesday. Their two friends Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were killed.
Williams’ wife, Michelle, told WBTV he didn’t even know he was crossing the border into Mexico – and a border town dominated by the Gulf drug cartel.
“I didn’t know he was traveling to Mexico,” she said.
“I just knew he was going somewhere to help two friends.”
Michelle said she last heard from her husband on Friday morning when he texted her.
She said she replied to his message “immediately” but got no response.
Now, he believes it was when he was kidnapped.
“He did not answer. He didn’t answer our son either, so I’m going to assume that’s when they were ambushed,” he said.
“I highly doubt they thought this could have happened to them.”
Now, he said he is recovering in hospital in Texas from gunshot wounds to his legs.
Andrea BlancoMarch 9, 2023 01:00
Victims described as ‘beloved son and brother’
Before the tragic news, Zindell Brown’s sister held out hope that her brother was among the two people who were revealed to have survived the kidnapping at a press conference early Tuesday by Mexican authorities.
“My brother is still alive and coming home! I still have strong faith!! I’m keeping the faith,” he wrote on Facebook.
“It’s like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from,” said Sister Zalandria Brown Associated Press. “To see a member of your family thrown into the back of a truck and dragged away, it’s just unbelievable.”
“Zindel kept saying, ‘We must not go down,'” he added.
His family has since set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for a second autopsy and funeral expenses.
“We are still working with authorities to figure out when Zindell’s body will be released and sent to us here in South Carolina,” Zalayna Grant, Brown’s sister, wrote in the page’s description.
“From there, we were told we might have to pay for a second autopsy ourselves. As a family, we are unprepared for all the unexpected costs due to this sudden tragedy.”
Brown was remembered as a beloved son, brother, uncle and friend.
“We hope to give him the farewell he deserves. Our family is grieving and we appreciate any prayers and support from the community during this time,” Ms Grant added.
Andrea BlancoMarch 9, 2023 00:00
Kidnapping victim who was killed Shaeed Woodard had gone with his cousin on a ‘booking’ trip
Shaeed Woodard’s aunt, Betty McGill, said in an interview Tuesday that he and Ms. McGee shared a bond beyond friendship: They were cousins.
Ms McGill described the slain man as someone who was quiet but always down to help his friends and loved ones.
“It’s just shocking,” Ms McGill’s son Hakquan Burgess told NewsNation. “It’s like, I can’t believe it.”
Shaeed Woodard was identified as one of the four Americans kidnapped
The survivors and dead victims were found in a “house” guarded by Jose Guadalupe “N,” 24, who has been arrested and charged in the case, Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal told a news conference.
Mexican authorities announced Wednesday that autopsies on the bodies of Woodard and Brown had been completed and that they were coordinating with U.S. officials to repatriate the bodies.
Sources close to the investigation believe the group was mistaken for drug smugglers by the cartel, according to CNN. No ramson was demanded from the kidnappers, Mr. Villareal said.
Andrea Blanco8 March 2023 23:00
Mexican authorities coordinate repatriation of bodies of slain American tourists
The bodies of two Americans killed in Matamoros, Mexico will be repatriated after local authorities conduct forensic assessments, a source close to the investigation told CNN.
Tamaulipa Governor Américo Villarreal said in a televised call with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that two people, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, had been killed.
Two other US citizens, one unharmed and one injured, are returning to US soil
Andrea BlancoMarch 8, 2023 10:18 p.m
Mexican authorities say the ‘Clan del Golfo’ cartel is likely behind the attack
Tamaulipas Governor Américo Villarreal said during a press conference that the group was taken from different locations, including a clinic, during the three days their abduction lasted in an effort to divert investigators.
Mr Villarreal said the ‘Clan del Golfo’ is the cartel known to operate and control the area. Tamaulipa Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica also said Mexican officials believe members of the Gulf drug cartel are behind the attack.
A member of Mexican security forces stands next to a white minivan with North Carolina plates and several bullet holes
In an early press conference on Tuesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed the tragedy would be seized upon by the US media to portray Mexico as a dangerous country, in stark contrast to their “silence when Mexicans are killed in the US”.
He went on to say that GOP politicians will also use crime as an opportunity to push their “agenda.”
“We continue to work every day for peace and we are very sorry that this happened in our country,” said President López Obrador. he said. “We send our condolences to the friends and family of the victims and to the American people. And we will continue to work for peace.”
Andrea BlancoMarch 8, 2023 8:56 p.m