The White House on Tuesday called the deaths of two Americans in Mexico ‘unacceptable’ and vowed to see justice given in the case.
‘Attacks on US citizens are unacceptable – no matter where or under what circumstance circumstances they happen,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at her daily briefing.
‘We will continue to work closely with the Mexican government to ensure justice is done in this case.’
She said President Joe Biden’s administration was working to bring the remaining two Americans home. The survivors of an attack and kidnapping last week in the border state of Tamaulipas are now in American custody.
‘Our immediate concerns are for the safety return of our citizens, the health and well being of those who who survived this attack and the support which must be rendered to the families of those who now want to move on,’ Jean-Pierre said.
‘Attacks on US citizens are unacceptable – no matter where or under what circumstance circumstances they happen,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said
One of the four Americans died at the scene of the attack on Friday, in which gunmen shot at their car. The two survivors were pictured in the back of an ambulance before being transported to Texas.
Jean-Pierre, when pressed, wouldn’t say if Biden would designate the Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations but noted there was a travel advisory for that area.
‘When it comes to the travel advisory for this particular area in Mexico, it that remains at number four: do not travel due to crime and kidnapping. We’ve been very clear about that. The State Department again, has put that out. We urge Americans to read these reports before traveling,’ she said.
Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee, her cousin Shaeed Woodard and their friends Zindell Brown and Eric Williams were said to be traveling south so McGee, a mother-of-five, could get a budget tummy tuck when they got caught in gunfire between two gangs March 3.
Mexican officials confirmed they were all found in a stash house in the rural town of El Tecolote, six and half miles from Matamoros. At least one person has been arrested in connection with the incident.
The surviving Americans were taken to the border near Brownsville, Texas, in a convoy of Mexican ambulances and SUVs Tuesday, according to AP officials and delivered to U.S. consulate officials.
Two Americans who survived being kidnapped at gunpoint at the US-Mexico border by ‘Gulf Cartel’ have been pictured in the back of an ambulance before being transported to Texas
The woman, believed to be Latavia McGee can be seen wiping her eyes with a tissue as another survivor is treated in the back of an ambulance
Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee had traveled down to Mexico on Wednesday for a tummy tuck procedure before she was kidnapped at gunpoint by a drug cartel on Friday
McGee was joined by her cousin, Shaeed Woodard, (left) and friends Eric Williams (right) and Zindell Brown
The Governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villarreal Anaya, confirmed the condition of the four Americans over a phone call during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s press conference on Tuesday.
Governor Américo Villarreal said that there has been close attention on the incident and medical support is being provided to surviving victims while the president vowed those responsible will be ‘punished.’
‘There is no impunity, there is someone under arrest’ President López Obrador said.
‘Those responsible are going to be found, they are going to be punished, as was done when they murdered women and children, in Bavispe, from the LeBarón, Miller, Langford family. All involved were arrested.’
The Tamaulipas State Attorney General’s Office said that the four American citizens ‘deprived of their liberty last Friday’ were found at about 7.30 am Tuesday.
‘Unfortunately two are dead. Investigation and intelligence work continues to capture those responsible. Details will be given later.’
‘Following your joint work instructions, we have not stopped paying attention to this problem since Friday and approximately an hour ago today we were notified that there were indications of having seen the four American citizens and 35 minutes ago it was fully confirmed by the prosecutor.
‘Of the four, two of them are deceased, one person injured and the other is alive.
‘The ambulances and the rest of the security personnel are on their way to give corresponding support for [their] transfer and [any] medical support that can be [given].’
Republican representatives Dan Crenshaw, of Texas, and Michael Waltz, of Florida, recently introduced a bill that would give Biden ‘authority to use the U.S. military against these cartels in Mexico.’
In response, Ricardo Monreal tweeted the following yesterday: ‘My response to the representative from Texas @DanCrenshawTX is direct and clear: I reject all foreign interference in the internal affairs of Mexico, and also the claim to apply United States laws in our country. It’s called ‘Sovereignty.’ Even if Crenshaw doesn’t get it.’
McGee is seen sitting on the ground after the vehicle she and three other U.S. citizens were traveling on was shot at by kidnappers moments after they drove into the Mexican border city of Matamoros
A gunman acted as a lookout for his cohorts moments after they attacked a mini van with four American occupants and kidnapped them in the northeastern Mexican border city of Matamoros on Friday
Pictures from the moment of their capture have started to circulate online showing the group at the back of a vehicle
Mexican newspaper Milenio cites law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether the group was kidnapped by members of the Gulf Cartel, a notoriously violent gang run by a feared leader known as La Kena.
The four had traveled from Lake City, South Carolina to the border town of Matamoros for McGee to undergo a discounted tummy tuck, according to a sister of one of the kidnapped, when they got caught in the crossfire of a gunfight on Friday.
It remains unclear who out of the four were murdered – although pictures from an ambulance show McGee and a man together. Details of the murders also remain unclear at this time.
Video from the kidnapping incident show the group being thrown in the back of a van.
Matamoros is in the state of Tamaupilas, which is among six states that are currently under travel warnings.
They were taken on Friday, after becoming caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between two gangs.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr said the US authorities should treat the gangs the same way they do ISIS when negotiating for Americans’ release.
‘They are terrorists,’ he said during an appearance on Fox News last night.
‘The Mexican government is being held hostage by tens of thousands of paramilitary members of terrorist organizations that effectively control Mexico.
La Kena or Ciclon 19, the leader of the Gulf Cartel
‘It’s pretty close at this stage to a failed narco-state.
‘They can use violence and oceans of cash to corrupt the government. The government has no will, and it doesn’t have the ability to deal with the cartels,’ he said.
Le Kena leads the Gulf Cartel and is also known as Ciclon 19. His real name is Alberto García Vilano.
Mexican authorities have been hunting him for months and are offering a reward of 2.5million pesos for any information that could lead to his arrest.
Zalandria Brown of Florence, South Carolina, said on Monday she had been in contact with the FBI and local officials after learning that her younger brother, Zindell, was one of the four victims.
‘This is like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from,’ she said in a phone interview with the Associated Press.
‘To see a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged, it is just unbelievable.’
Zalandria said her brother, who lives in Myrtle Beach, and two friends had accompanied McGee and that the group was extremely close – making the trip in part to help split up the driving duties.
They were aware of the dangers in Mexico, Zalandria noted, and her brother had even expressed some misgivings before the trip.
‘Zindell kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go down,’ Brown said.
White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday during a news briefing that the Biden administration had been ‘closely following the assault and kidnapping of four U.S. citizens.’
‘These sorts of attacks are unacceptable,’ she said, adding that U.S. law enforcement was in touch with Mexican authorities, as were the departments of State and Homeland Security.
The Governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villarreal Anaya, confirmed the condition of four kidnapped Americans over a phone call during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s press conference on Tuesday. Two are dead, two alive – one wounded
Mexican authorities are seen here investigating the white SUV McGee and her friends drove to the country in
A map highlighting the six of 32 Mexican states that the US State Department currently has listed under its most severe ‘do not travel’ category, due to local cartels that may rob and/or kidnap American tourists
The FBI and Mexican law enforcement are investigating, with the bureau asking the public for information leading to arrests.
The State Department has a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning in place for Tamaulipas state due to ‘crime and kidnapping.’
It said organized crime activity, including gun battles, armed robberies and kidnappings, are common along the border and in Ciudad Victoria.
‘Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments,’ the warning states.