Updated at 8 p.m.
The bodies of two American slain in Matamoros by apparent gulf cartel members are back in the United States.
A small caravan of vehicles crossed the bodies of Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown before 5 p.m. Thursday at the Veterans International Bridge in Brownsville. They were to be transported to a Harlingen funeral home.
Woodard, Brown, Eric Williams and Latavia McGee were among four people who were kidnapped in Matamoros by cartels last Friday.
Authorities found them Tuesday at a location outside of Matamoros. They were being guarded by a man who was arrested.
Woodard and Brown were killed, and Williams and McGee were injured. Williams and McGee were transported from Matamoros to Brownsville Tuesday and were being treated at Valley Regional Medical Center.
The four had traveled from North Carolina to Matamoros, Tamaulipas so McGee could undergo a cosmetic procedure.
Reports have been circulating that the group apparently got caught in a shootout between rival cartel members. Their white minivan crashed, and they were kidnapped.
The four were reported missing last Friday by Cheryl Orange, who was traveling with them but could not travel into Mexico because she didn’t have the proper paperwork.
According to a Brownsville Police Department report, Orange contacted the department at about noon Saturday and reported them missing because she had not heard from them after they said they were traveling to Matamoros.
The police report states that last time Orange saw her traveling companions was at 8 a.m. Friday, March 3. She didn’t know the name of the physician McGee was going to see.
Orange said she tried calling their cellphone but it appeared they had been turned off.
“Cheryl stated that she would not be surprised if her friends got arrested because they are known to party and use narcotics,” the report said.
Investigator Martin Sandoval, spokesman for Brownsville police, said once the report was received the officer began to check area hospitals, local and county jails to see if those reported missing were in either place.
“He called the detective because the incident happened in Mexico and by that time the detective got it and started calling the FBI about missing people in Mexico,” Sandoval said.
Shortly after social media started to “explode up,” with a shooting that happened in Mexico on the day the four went missing, Sandoval said. Police determined that the people involved in the shooting were four missing Americans.
Several media reports indicate the gulf cartel issued a letter in which they apologized about what happened but said four members of the group took it upon themselves to attack and kill the Americans.
In the letter, obtained by The Associated Press and viewed by The Brownsville Herald, the cartel writes: “We have decided to turn over those who were directly involved and responsible in the events, who at all times acted under their own decision-making and lack of discipline,” the letter reads, adding that those individuals had gone against the cartel’s rules, which include “respecting the life and well-being of the innocent.”
A photograph of five bound men face-down on the pavement accompanied the letter, which was shared with the AP and other media by an official on the condition that they remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share the document.
The attack on the American prompted Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham to issue a statement which stated he planned to introduce legislation that would “make certain Mexican drug cartels foreign terrorist organizations under U.S. law and set the stage to use military force if necessary.”
“I would tell the Mexican government if you don’t clean up your act, we’re going to clean it up for you,” the senator said.