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Four Americans kidnapped in Mexico: What we know

Four Americans who traveled to Mexico last week were confronted with gunfire shortly after crossing the border and kidnapped by members of a Mexican cartel, with two of the four U.S. citizens reportedly killed in the attack and another left wounded.

The four Americans crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas, into the Mexican city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, when their minivan was hit by gunfire. The van, which had North Carolina plates, collided with another vehicle before armed men jumped out of a third vehicle, forced the four Americans into the back of a white truck, and then sped off.

“All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the FBI, which is offering a $50,000 reward for the victims’ return and the arrest of the kidnappers, said in a statement.

Video from the scene showed a male victim being dragged across the pavement before he is loaded into the truck, while a female victim, who was able to walk, is forced into the bed of the same truck. Two more male victims, appearing possibly injured or dead, were then dragged toward the truck and loaded in the back.


Pictures from the scene showed a white minivan with bullet holes and shattered glass after the violent assault.

Two of the four Americans reportedly died in the attack, according to Reuters, which cited Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal. Another innocent Mexican bystander was also killed during the incident, according to U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar.

The Americans were reportedly traveling to Mexico for a medical procedure and may not have been the intended target of the attack.

One of the four Americans was identified as Zindell Brown by his older sister, Zalandria Brown. Brown said her younger brother is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was traveling with three close friends, one of whom was in the country to get tummy tuck surgery.


“This is like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from,” Brown told The Associated Press. “To see a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged, it is just unbelievable.”

Brown also said her brother had expressed concerns about the trip beforehand.

“Zindell kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go down,’” Brown said.

Zindell Brown’s father, O’dell William Brown, also spoke to The Associated Press about the news.

“I don’t know which way to go right now,” he said. “We don’t know what’s what.”

The other three victims were reportedly identified by family members as Latavia “Tay” McGee, Shadeed Woodard and Eric James Williams, all of South Carolina.

It is unclear which of the Americans were killed in the attack.

Tamaulipas is one of six Mexican states that carries a travel warning from the U.S. State Department against visiting the region due to the elevated risks of violence targeting Americans.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a Tuesday news conference that he has been briefed on the incident in Mexico and offered his sympathies to the families of the American victims.

Garland said the State Department is working with Mexican authorities to investigate the incident, but did not confirm the deaths of the two Americans.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that President Biden has also been briefed.

“These sorts of attacks are unacceptable,” Jean-Pierre said. “Our thoughts are with the families of these individuals and we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.” 



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