Retracing the steps of a violent kidnapping after 2 Americans found dead in Mexico

Written by on March 7, 2023

Two of four Americans who disappeared after a violent kidnapping in Mexico last week are dead and the other two have been found alive, one injured, Mexican authorities said Tuesday. The survivors have returned to the U.S.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on one woman and three men in a white minivan shortly after they drove into the Mexican border town of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, from Brownsville, Texas, on Friday.

Videos captured scenes of gunmen pulling the Americans from their van, forcing them into a white pickup truck and driving away. The Americans were found in Tecolote, a village about 15 miles from Matamoros.

A unidentified Mexican woman described as “an innocent citizen” was killed in Friday’s shooting, Mexican authorities said.

Relatives have identified the Americans to media sources as being from the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area.

The four went to Mexico so one could have tummy tuck surgery, a cosmetic surgical procedure, ABC News reported.

Mexican officials said the Americans were caught in the crossfire of rival drug cartels in Matamoros, USA TODAY reported. CNN and others reported the Americans may have been mistaken for Haitian drug smugglers.

As the investigation continues, here is what we know:

Friday, March 3

Four Americans, one woman and three men, enter Matamoros in a white Chrysler Pacifica minivan with North Carolina license plates after crossing the border at Brownsville.

The minivan is hit by another vehicle at an intersection and unidentified gunman fire on it. A white pickup stops nearby, armed men emerge and force the Americans into the bed of the truck. The pickup drives away.

Sunday, March 5

As Mexican police search for the Americans, the FBI in San Antonio, Texas, says it’s seeking help in finding them. It offers a $50,000 reward for information leading to their return or capture of those responsible.

Monday, March 6

U.S. law enforcement agencies are working with the Mexican authorities to find the Americans, says Ken Salazar, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

Tuesday, March 7

Two of the kidnapped Americans are found dead, Mexican government officials announce. At least one of them died at the scene of the abduction, a Mexican official said. The other two Americans are alive, and one of them is injured, said Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal. The other American is reportedly unharmed.

It’s not yet known which of the Americans died. The bodies will be be examined by Mexican authorities before they are turned over to U.S. officials, CNN reported.

The survivors returned to the U.S. in a convoy of Mexican ambulances and SUVs. They were escorted by Mexican military Humvees, armored vehicles, state police and National Guard in trucks with mounted .50-caliber machine guns, said Tamaulipas state Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica.


SOURCE USA TODAY Network reporting and research; Associated Press

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