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Amiga notified the police of kidnapped Americans in Mexico


LAKE CITY, South Carolina — The desperate attempt to rescue four Americans taken captive in Mexico, a kidnapping in which two occurred, occurred after a fifth person traveling with the group contacted police when the the others did not return to the United States as planned.

Cheryl Orange, who did not cross into Mexico with the others, told The Associated Press in a text message that her three friends were supposed to return less than 15 minutes after dropping off her date, Latavia McGee, at their appointment to cosmetic surgery on Friday in the Mexican city of Matamoros, bordering Texas.

Orange stayed in a motel in Brownsville, Texas, and said he grew concerned as time went on and he didn’t hear from the rest of the group.

On Thursday, the five friends set off on a road trip in a rented minivan from South Carolina to the southern tip of Texas, according to a police report based on Orange’s statement. Four of them left at approximately 8 am on Friday for Mexico.

Orange’s statements and the report offer the most detailed picture yet of what happened before the kidnapping. McGee and another friend returned to a US hospital Tuesday after Mexican authorities rescued them and found the bodies of their other two friends in a wooden shack outside Matamoros. A Mexican woman was also killed during the attack in that city.

Orange told police that she did not cross the border because she did not have her identification. When the AP contacted her, Orange said she couldn’t speak because she was expecting a call from McGee, who said she was going to be released from a hospital. The other wounded American, Eric Williams, also received medical attention due to a gunshot wound to the leg.

Americans Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard appeared in the attack.

Orange got in a text that they were on the trip to accompany McGee for cosmetic surgery.

“She was just going in for cosmetic surgery, that’s all. It’s all and she passed this on to them,” Orange commented.

Mexican authorities have said the group was shot at and crashed the van shortly after arriving in Matamoros on Friday, when members of organized crime roamed the streets.

The Americans were placed in a pickup truck. Mexican authorities launched a desperate search as the cartel moved them from one location to another, including transferring them to a clinic, “in order to create confusion and prevent rescue efforts,” said Américo Villarreal, governor of the state of Tamaulipas, where Matamoros is located.

Orange told authorities in Brownsville that she had everyone’s luggage but had not been able to contact them, according to the police report.

“He tried to call their cell phones, but they were muffled,” according to the report.

The document said an agent provided Orange with a phone number for the international bridge in the area and had to follow it up with criminal investigators Monday in case he still didn’t hear from his friends.

A spokesperson for the Brownsville Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CNN was the first outlet to report on the police report.

It is unknown how the FBI, which is leading the investigation on the US side, received the first report of the kidnapping. An agency voice had no comment Wednesday.

Mexican authorities found the group Tuesday in a wooden shack — guarded by a man who was arrested — on the El Tecolote ejido, east of Matamoros, heading for a part of the Gulf of Mexico known as Playa Bagdad, according to the prosecutor. General of Tamaulipas, Irving Barrios.

A GoFundMe page set up by Brown’s family indicates that his relatives hope the “beloved son, brother, uncle and friend” gets the “send-off he deserves.”

Family members of the group said the four forged a close friendship growing up together in Lake City, South Carolina, a community of fewer than 6,000 in the Pee Dee region of the state. Some relatives said they spent agonizing days waiting to find out if their loved ones had survived.

Lake City authorities called on the community to provide support to the families of the victims, and Mayor Yamekia Robinson sent them her “deepest condolences.”

“We ask that each of you, your friends, your churches, and your communities across the country, keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we, the City of Lake City, and the families mourn the loss and move through this together. tragic incident,” Robinson said in a statement released Wednesday.

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