Search for kidnapped Americans continue in Mexico

On the day that four Americans traveled into Matamoros from the United States, a travel advisory issued by the State Department had been in effect advising Americans not to visit the State of Tamaulipas because of ongoing violence such as crimes and kidnappings.

The four people were riding in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates that had just crossed into Matamoros when gunmen opened fire on them and their vehicle, the FBI said in a news release.

According to the FBI, all four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday the Americans that were kidnapped had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to purchase medications and a confrontation started between groups and the Americans were detained.

According to the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico there were reports of police activity near Calle Primera and Lauro Villar in connection to a shooting on Friday. Media reports indicate that one individual has been killed. It did not state if this was related to the kidnapping of the Americans.

A spokesperson for the FBI said the “FBI is working alongside its federal partners and Mexican law enforcement agencies. As this is an ongoing investigation, we do not have any additional information at this time.”

Traffic at the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville continued with vehicles waiting in line to cross into Mexico Monday.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Brownsville, said “the details of the kidnapping are horrific and alarming.”

“I stand with the FBI and call on the Government of Mexico and the state of Tamaulipas to work in good faith with American investigators to find out who is responsible for this and ensure the safe return of our citizens to U.S. soil. I implore anyone who has information regarding the kidnapping to come forward as the FBI continues their investigation,” Gonzalez said in a statement.”

Motorists pay a bridge toll at Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville Monday, March 6, 2023, to cross into Matamoros, Mexico the same bridge used by four U.S. citizens to cross into Mexico in their vehicle and would later be kidnapped by gunmen in Matamoros, Mexico on Friday, Mar. 3, 2023. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

According to the travel alert that had been in place since Oct. 5, 2022, organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the Mexico’s northern 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 alert states.

“Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state and operate with impunity, particularly along the border region from Reynosa to Nuevo Laredo,” according to the alert.

Because of the ongoing violence in Mexico, U.S. government employees may only travel within a limited radius around and between the U.S. Consulates in Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, their homes, the respective U.S. Ports of Entry, and limited downtown sites, subject to an overnight curfew.

In addition, U.S. government employees may not travel between cities in Tamaulipas using interior Mexican highways. Travel between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey is limited to Federal Highway 85D during daylight hours with prior authorization.

Here’s the latest update:

2 Matamoros kidnapping survivors transported to Brownsville hospital