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Mexico cartel apologises for kidnapping Americans, returns bodies

The cartel handed over five of its members suspected of being behind the kidnapping to authorities.

Suspected drug cartel members turned over five alleged accomplices as an alleged apology for the kidnapping of four Americans in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, according to media outlets and a source familiar with the investigation.

The Scorpions faction of the Gulf Cartel on Thursday apologized to the residents of Matamoros, the Mexican woman killed in the cartel shooting, and the four Americans and their families.

“We have decided to extradite those directly involved and responsible in the events, who at all times acted according to their own decision-making and lack of discipline,” the letter reads, adding that those individuals had gone against the rules of the cartel . including “respect for the life and well-being of the innocent”.

Two of the Americans and a Mexican woman died after gunmen opened fire on American citizens shortly after their arrival in Matamoros on March 3. The four Americans were found Monday on the outskirts of town, by which time two of them were dead. .

Mexican officials handed over the bodies of the two dead men, identified as Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, to US officials in Matamoros on Thursday afternoon, and they were taken across the border into the US, Reuters news agency reported.

Woodard’s cousin, Latavia McGee, had surprised him with the fatal road trip as a birthday getaway, according to his father, James Woodard. He said he was speechless when he learned that the cartel had apologized for the violent kidnapping that killed his son and was captured in footage that quickly spread online.

“Just being helpless — not being able to do anything, not being able to go there and just save them — it’s really painful,” James Woodard said.

The Americans’ killings brought National Guard troops and an Army special forces unit leading patrols that “warm up the square” in narco terminology, Mexican security analyst David Saucedo said.

“It is very difficult for them right now to continue working in the field of street drug sales and drug transfer to the United States; they are the first to be interested in closing this chapter as soon as possible,” said Saucedo.

Cooperation with cartel communities

The community relations efforts of cartels are well known in Mexico. In disputed territory, a cartel may hang banners around a city to blame a rival for the recent violence and distinguish itself as a gang that doesn’t mess with civilians.

Last November, such banners appeared in the state of Guanajuato, allegedly written by the Jalisco New Generation cartel, blaming a rival for a spate of murders in bars and other businesses.

In other situations, the message is more blunt: bodies are left in a vehicle with a note or hanged from a highway overpass on a busy road. The motivation is terror.

The extradition of alleged cartel suspects to the police is also not without precedent. Saucedo warned that a cartel leader might have authorized the attack, regretted it and decided to offer sacrificial lambs to the police.

In 2008, drug traffickers in Michoacan threw hand grenades into a crowd celebrating Mexico’s independence, killing eight. Days later, authorities arrested three suspects, but it turned out they had been kidnapped by a cartel, beaten into confessions involving a rival group, and handed over to the police.

Meanwhile, the Tamaulipas prosecutor’s office said on Thursday it seized an ambulance and identified a medical clinic in Matamoros that was allegedly used to treat the Americans after the shooting.

The Americans told investigators they were taken to the clinic in an ambulance to receive first aid, the statement said. By reviewing police surveillance videos in the city, authorities were able to identify the ambulance and locate the clinic. According to the statement, no arrests have been made at the clinic.