According to reports from Mexican media and The Associated Press on Thursday, a drug cartel from Mexico has admitted responsibility for the recent kidnapping of four Americans. The Mexican cartel has handed over five members and left an apology note at the scene.
Photos circulating on social media show the men with their hands tied and the apology letter placed on the windshield of a pickup truck. The letter, obtained by the AP from a law enforcement source in Tamaulipas, the state where the incident occurred, expressed regret for the actions of the cartel members.
The kidnapping occurred last week when the Americans arrived in Matamoros for cosmetic surgery, resulting in the death of two of them and injuries to another.
According to officials, members of the cartel likely mistook the victims for drug smugglers and shot at their van before abducting them. The Scorpions faction of the Gulf cartel has issued a letter apologizing to the people of Matamoros, the family of the four Americans, and a Mexican woman who was killed in the crossfire.
The letter also stated that the faction has taken responsibility for the incident and has decided to turn over the members who were directly involved and responsible for the events. The letter indicated that those members acted without discipline and against the cartel’s rules.
According to an official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, The Associated Press obtained a photo of the men lying face down on the ground, having been found tied up inside a vehicle that authorities had been looking for.
The photo was taken along with the apology letter handed over by the Scorpions faction of the Gulf cartel. While Tamaulipas officials have not confirmed the arrest of any new suspects, the attorney general’s office stated on Thursday that they had seized an ambulance and medical clinic in Matamoros that were used to provide medical assistance to the injured Americans.
On Tuesday morning, authorities found the victims on the outskirts of the city, where they were being guarded by a man who was subsequently arrested. Two of the Americans were killed, one was injured, and the other was unharmed.
The two surviving Americans have been repatriated and are receiving medical treatment. The deceased travelers’ bodies are expected to be returned home following autopsies. Despite Eric Williams’ survival, a cousin of his has told the AP that the family does not accept the apology from the cartel. Jerry Wallace, who is 62 years old, has called on both the American and Mexican governments to take more action to address the issue of cartel violence, saying that the apology does not change the pain they have experienced.
Former Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge for San Antonio, Jerry Robinette, has stated that he was not surprised by the cartel’s decision to hand over the five men it claims were involved in the attack to Mexican authorities.
Jerry Robinette has stated that it is common for cartels to police themselves and clean up their own mess because it is not good for their business. The five men will now face warrants for extradition to the U.S. to face criminal charges, but federal investigators will still try to determine their exact role in the shooting.
Robinette believes that U.S. authorities may not be satisfied with just the capture of the men, as the investigation needs to go beyond identifying those directly involved in the violence. “It’s imperative the investigation goes above and beyond the individuals who actually pulled the trigger,” he said.
Martin Sandoval, a police spokesman in Brownsville, Texas, confirmed that they were aware of the developments in Matamoros. Sandoval also stated that the FBI was trying to verify if the men in the photo were the actual suspects, but the FBI did not comment on the matter on Thursday. Additionally, Sandoval confirmed that police had found Cheryl Orange, the fifth member of the traveling party who had stayed behind in Brownsville because she had forgotten her travel documents.
The group had driven from South Carolina to Mexico for Latavia McGee to undergo a cosmetic procedure, initially reported as a tummy tuck but later clarified by Orange as “gluteal augmentation.” Orange had first contacted the authorities on Saturday, a day after the other four had crossed the border, expressing concerns about their safety.
She told the police that she had last seen the group at 8 a.m. on Friday when they left a motel in Brownsville in a rented minivan with North Carolina plates.
The police report stated that the group had intended to come back and leave the motel on Saturday, as per their plan. The report further mentioned that Orange informed the police that she hadn’t had any contact with the group since Friday.
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