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Thursday, March 30, 2023

‘We went for cosmetic surgery’: Kidnapped Americans killed in Mexico


Two Americans kidnapped in Mexico have been found dead, officials say. Another of the Americans was injured and the fourth remained unharmed after the four, en route from the United States for cosmetic surgery, were captured by militants in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

Two of the four Americans abducted in northern Mexico have been found dead, authorities said Tuesday, while two of their compatriots were found alive, ending a feverish search that has drawn media attention on both sides of the country. the US-Mexico border.

Américo Villarreal, governor of the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, confirmed the news at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, adding that a person caring for the victims was in custody, reported The Guardian.

The four Americans were found in a wooden house on the outskirts of Matamoros, the governor said, adding that their captors had moved them around town several times to hide from authorities.

According to Villarreal, American citizens have traveled to Mexico for “cosmetic surgery”.

The governor also said the woman, who was not injured, and the man, who was injured, were handed over to US authorities in Texas earlier in the day. The two survivors have been identified as Latavia McGee and Eric James Williams.

Tamaulipas State Attorney Irving Barrios Mojica said the most likely cause of the kidnapping was a case of “confusion” rather than a targeted attack on the group.

The four Americans traveled from Brownsville, Texas, across the border to Matamoros in Tamaulipas, where one of them was reportedly planning to undergo a tummy tuck. They were driving a white van with North Carolina license plates. Shortly after, they came under fire and were abducted by unknown gunmen.

A Mexican woman was also killed in the abduction, authorities said.

Video apparently filmed at the scene and shared on social media shows the armed men, some of whom were wearing what appeared to be body armor, escorting one of the hostages to a white van. Two other people are dragged across the street and thrown into a truck.

The FBI offered a $50,000 reward “for the return of the victims and the arrest of those involved.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that Americans had crossed the border looking for drugs. was planning to undergo a facelift operation.

ABC News has identified the fourth member of the group as Shahid Woodard.

The incident, which caused a storm of coverage in the American media, drew renewed attention to the violence that has engulfed Mexico in recent years. More than 35,000 people were killed across the country in 2021 alone, according to government figures.

Tamaulipas, a northern state with a long border with the United States, has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the most violent in the country, engulfed in conflict between rival factions of a powerful cartel. There were more than 380 “deliberate homicides” in the state last year, as well as 18 kidnappings, according to federal data.

Late last month, Mexican soldiers killed five young men as they drove home in a van in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, according to a local rights group. Witnesses said at least two young men were shot in the back of the neck as they lay face down on the pavement.

The US State Department issued a travel advisory for Tamaulipas last October, warning citizens against travel to a state where “organized crime activity, including shootings, murders, armed robberies , car thefts, kidnappings, enforced disappearances, extortion and sexual assaults, are widespread along the northern border.

Violence against Americans in Mexico is relatively rare, but there have been a series of gruesome murders in recent months, including a California lawyer who was killed while vacationing with his wife in northern Mexico in January. . A subsequent autopsy showed that dozens of fractures remained on his skull.

In Washington, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the attack “unacceptable”. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “We will do everything in our power to identify, find and bring to justice those responsible for this attack on American citizens.”

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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