Four Americans Kidnapped in Mexico; Two Now Dead
By Sandra G. Leon
Four Americans who were kidnapped in Northeastern Mexico in what authorities believe was a case of mistaken identity have been found, but two of them are dead.
The kidnapping occurred in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas, on March 3rd after the four Americans crossed into Mexico for a medical appointment for one of the travelers.
The white Chrysler Pacifica van with North Carolina license plates was stopped by armed men who violently threw the four into the back of an open pickup truck cargo bed. Part of the ambush was caught on video by an onlooker.
The four victims have been identified as Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, Eric James Williams, and Latavia "Tay" McGee.
The group had traveled to Mexico for a plastic surgery procedure McGee had planned, but they had some trouble locating the medical office as they drove around the city.
Mexican authorities initiated a search for the group after they were taken, and the four were located four days later at a medical clinic after being found at a local home.
Authorities confirmed that two men in the group are dead, but the other man and McGee have survived. It is not clear which of the men is the other survivor.
US government authorities were in communication with Mexican authorities during the search for the group. The two survivors were transported to the US-Mexico border and transferred into the care of the US FBI, but the bodies of the two who were killed remain in Mexico pending autopsies.
Mexican officials now believe the four US citizens -all of which were African-American- were mistakenly targeted by drug cartel members who thought they were Haitian drug smugglers.
The state of Tamaulipas is one of the most violent areas in Mexico and Matamoros itself has been dominated by the Gulf Cartel, which has used the City as a corridor for smuggling cocaine, methamphetamines, and fentanyl across the border into the US through Texas.