Details of the Kidnapping
The Americans were in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates and came under fire shortly after entering the city of Matamoros. According to the FBI San Antonio Division, armed men took the Americans from the scene. The FBI is offering a reward of $50,000 for the victims' return and the arrest of the kidnappers.
Mexican President's Statement
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated that the Americans were going to buy medicine and were detained in a confrontation between groups. However, he did not provide any further details.
Eyewitness Account of the Shootout
A woman driving in Matamoros witnessed the shooting and abduction. She reported seeing the white minivan hit by another vehicle near an intersection and then gunfire ringing out. Several armed men got out of an SUV and forced some Americans into the back of a pickup truck. Mexican authorities arrived minutes later.
Investigation by U.S. and Mexican Officials
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar stated that the Americans were kidnapped at gunpoint, and an innocent Mexican citizen died in the attack. Various U.S. justice agencies are working with their Mexican counterparts to recover the missing Americans. The White House has confirmed that President Biden has been informed of the situation.
Dangers in Matamoros
Matamoros is dominated by factions of the Gulf cartel and has been a city plagued by terror for years. Thousands of Mexicans have disappeared just in Tamaulipas state, where Matamoros is located. The U.S. Consulate issued an alert about the danger in Matamoros on Friday due to the bad shootouts.
Travel Warning for Tamaulipas
The State Department has issued a travel warning for Tamaulipas and warned U.S. citizens not to travel there. However, being a border city, U.S. citizens often cross to visit family, attend medical appointments, or shop.
Increased Cartel Violence
Over the past 10 to 15 years, increased cartel violence has frightened away much of the business in Matamoros. Previously, as the headquarters of the powerful Gulf cartel, Matamoros was relatively calm, but sometimes U.S. citizens get swept up in the violence.
The kidnapping of the four Americans in Matamoros is a reminder of the dangers that exist in the city and the region. The U.S. and Mexican authorities are working together to recover the missing Americans, and the FBI is offering a reward for their return and the arrest of the kidnappers.