4 Americans Kidnapped at Gunpoint in Matamoros, Mexico

AP Photo/Augusto Zurita

Four Americans were taken hostage at gunpoint in northern Mexico on Friday. The four were traveling in a white mini-van and had just crossed over into Matamoros from Brownsville, Texas. The U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico issued the following statement on Sunday:

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BROWNSVILLE, TX- Oliver Rich, Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio Division of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), whose territory includes Brownsville, Texas, announced today that the FBI is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the person(s) responsible for the assault and kidnapping of four U.S. Citizens, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on March 03, 2023.

The FBI, federal partners, and Mexican law enforcement agencies are investigating. The FBI is announcing a reward of $50,000 for the return of the victims and the arrest of those involved.

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.

The public is urged to call FBI San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741 with any information regarding this investigation. Tips can also be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov . Individuals who provide information may remain anonymous.

As noted by the Associated Press, the kidnapping was not the only violence in Matamoros Friday evening.

Matamoros is home to warring factions of the Gulf drug cartel and shootouts there on Friday were so bad that the U.S. Consulate issued an alert about the danger and local authorities warned people to shelter in place. It was not immediately clear how the abductions could have been connected to that violence Friday.

Tamaulipas state police said people had been killed and injured Friday, but did not say how many. The state police said that neither police nor the military were involved in Friday’s shootouts.

“There have been two armed incidents between unidentified civilians,” the state police said Friday on social media. “The exact number of the fallen is being corroborated.”

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Disturbing video posted online Friday has been linked with the incident, though it is unclear at this time if the video depicts the kidnapping or another violent incident.

WARNING: Graphic Video

Unfortunately, victims of cartel violence often go uncounted/unidentified because of the cartels’ practice of taking bodies with them, as depicted in the above video.

As noted, there are warnings about travel in the area:

The U.S. State Department’s travel warning for Tamaulipas state warns U.S. citizens not to travel there. However, being a border city, U.S. citizens who live in Brownsville or elsewhere in Texas frequently cross to visit family, attend medical appointments or shop. It would also be a crossing point for people traveling deeper into Mexico.

For years, a night out in Matamoros was also part of the “two-nation vacation” for spring breakers flocking to Texas’ South Padre Island. But increased violence there over the past 10 to 15 years frightened away much of that business.

The Consulate issued an alert for the area on Friday evening:

Location: Matamoros, Mexico

Event: The U.S. Consulate Matamoros has received reports of police activity occurring in the vicinity of Calle Primera and Lauro Villar in connection to a shooting. Media reports indicate that one individual has been killed. U.S. government employees have been instructed to avoid the area until further notice. The U.S. Consulate General reminds U.S. citizens that Tamaulipas is classified as Level 4: Do Not Travel in the State Department’s travel advisory for Mexico.

Actions To Take:

  •        Avoid the area.
  •        Be aware of your surroundings.
  •        Seek shelter if needed.
  •        Monitor local media for updates and in case of emergency, call 911.
  •        Review your personal security plans and follow the instructions of local authorities.
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