The Washington Post

Video appears to capture kidnapping of 4 Americans by gunmen in Mexico


MEXICO CITY — A woman sits on the ground next to a white Chrysler Pacifica minivan. It’s wedged against a red Chevrolet. The driver’s side window appears to have been punctured by a bullet; the tires are deflated. Close by, three other individual­s lie immobile on the road.

Then armed men wearing protective vests force the woman to the back of a white pickup. The three others are dragged to the truck, trailing what appears to be blood on the ground. A fifth person, apparently injured, lies on a sidewalk.

Video and photograph­s verified by The Washington Post capture a chaotic scene at an intersecti­on in the border city of Matamoros, Mexico, just three blocks from the United States, where officials from both countries say four U.S. citizens were fired on and abducted Friday.

The four remained missing Monday; the FBI offered a $50,000 reward for their safe return and informatio­n leading to the arrests of those responsibl­e.

The Americans came under fire shortly after they crossed the border Friday into the city of Matamoros, across from Brownsvill­e, Tex., the FBI said in a statement Sunday. The Americans were traveling in a white minivan with North Carolina plates.

“All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the bureau said.

Officials do not believe the victims were targeted before the encounter. There was no evidence they were linked to organized crime in Mexico, U.S. officials said; none of the four have criminal records.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the Americans had “crossed the border to buy medicine in Mexico” when they were caught in a crossfire “between groups.” Ken Salazar, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said an “innocent Mexican citizen” was killed.

Oliver Rich, the special agent in charge of the FBI’S San Antonio Division, said the bureau was seeking assistance from the public in identifyin­g the kidnappers. The FBI did not release names of the victims. The bureau is investigat­ing the kidnapping alongside Mexican law enforcemen­t agencies.

The San Antonio Division declined to provide more details Monday. The State Department and Mexican police did not respond to requests for further comment.

The White House said that President Biden had been briefed and that it was “closely following the assault and kidnapping” of the Americans.

“These sorts of attacks are unacceptab­le,” White House spokeswoma­n Karine Jean-pierre said in a news briefing. “We stand ready to provide all appropriat­e consular assistance.” She said U.S. law enforcemen­t and the State and Homeland Security department­s would “continue to coordinate with Mexico and push them to bring those responsibl­e to justice.”

Matamoros, home to 580,000 people, is the second-largest city in the northeaste­rn state of Tamaulipas, across from Texas’s southern tip. Tamaulipas is one of six Mexican states to which the State Department advises Americans against traveling, citing the risk of crime and kidnapping.

“Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobile­s traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments,” the State Department says. Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol border regions in the state.

On the day of the kidnapping, the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros said it had received police reports of a deadly shooting in the city and ordered U.S. government officials to avoid the area in the vicinity of Calle Primera and Lauro Villar. There was no immediate indication that the incident was connected to the kidnapping.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States