The four Americans who were kidnapped after crossing into Mexico last Friday have now been identified.
Shocking video captured the moment that Latavia "Tay" McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and Eric James Williams were kidnapped last Friday, shortly after they crossed into the Mexican border city of Matamoros. Their identities were reported by ABC News.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said in a statement:
On March 03, 2023, four Americans crossed into Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico driving a white minivan with North Carolina license plates. Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen fired upon the passengers in the vehicle. All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men.
Zalandria Brown, whose younger brother is one of the victims, told the Associated Press that her brother and two friends were traveling with another friend who was scheduled to undergo a tummy tuck procedure in Mexico. Plastic surgery is significantly cheaper in Mexico, and Americans routinely travel there to receive cosmetic operations.
According to Brown, her brother was apprehensive about the trip because the group was aware of the dangers in Mexico, which is overrun by cartels. Matamoros is especially dangerous because it is where the Gulf Cartel is headquartered.
"Zindell kept saying, 'We shouldn’t go down,'" Brown recounted.
Video of the abduction showing armed cartel members carrying some of the victims later surfaced online. It was taken from what appears to be a second-story window of a building where the kidnapping took place. Brown called the footage "a bad dream."
"This is like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from," Brown told the AP. "To see a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged, it is just unbelievable."
Barbara Burgess, the mother of McGee, confirmed that her daughter had traveled to Mexico to receive a cosmetic procedure. She told ABC News that she spoke to her daughter on Friday just before the abduction. When she later tried to call back, her phone went to voicemail.
Two of the Americans were found alive on Tuesday morning. The other two were found dead. They were dropped off at a medical clinic in Matamoros, CNN reported.
U.S. officials reportedly believe they were targeted after being misidentified as Haitian smugglers.
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