US-Mexican border in Arizona close to highway 85, captured in September 2016

Update: Mexican Authorities Seek Kidnappers After Two Americans Found Dead

Mexican law enforcement in Matamoros is ramping up its search for the kidnappers of four Americans after two of them were found dead in Tamaulipas. The kidnapping initially confused law enforcement officers in both the US and Mexico, as organized criminals in Mexico tend to avoid any contact with American citizens for fear of running afoul of the US government.

Outlets have now reported that the kidnappers may have mistaken the four African American tourists for Haitians and kidnapped them hoping to receive a ransom. Two of the American travelers returned across the border into Brownsville this morning, while the other two were found dead outside of Matamoros in Tecolote. 

What Happened?

The Americans, a group of friends from South Carolina, traveled to Brownsville, Texas, so they could go across the border into Mexico to get cosmetic surgery done. One of the visitors, Latavia “Tay” McGee, wanted to travel to Matamoros for her procedure because it would be far more affordable than getting the same work done in the US.

However, the group was accosted on Friday by a group of unidentified armed criminals. The criminals forced them into a pickup truck, and an innocent bystander was also killed in the attack. Mexican authorities noted that the group was taken to three distinct locations before the survivors made their way back across the border.

Why Them?

Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica told reporters that the Americans were likely kidnapped out of “confusion,” stating that the criminals likely targeted them because they mistook them for Haitians. In recent years, the cartels in Northern Mexico have begun kidnapping Haitian migrants in order to shake down their families for ransom money.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised the US that Mexican authorities will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice. Still, he chided US media outlets for remaining “silent like mummies” whenever Mexican citizens are killed in the United States. 

Pursuit of Justice

The White House called the slaying of Americans on Mexican soil “unacceptable” and called on the Mexican government to do everything possible “to ensure justice is done.” It’s exceedingly uncommon for Mexican cartels to target US citizens for fear of retaliation from federal authorities. 

The US government raised its alert level for the state of Tamaulipas following the kidnappings, elevating the state to a level 4 advisory: do not travel.