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FBI: Surviving Americans attacked in Mexico are under medical care

Four American citizens were shot at and abducted after crossing into Mexico from Texas, according to the FBI.
Posted at 11:05 AM, Mar 06, 2023

The governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas confirmed multiple missing Americans kidnapped in Mexico were found, according to the Associated Press. Two of the four who went missing are dead, and one was wounded, while another in the group was unharmed.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said Tuesday that the two surviving American citizens were receiving medical treatment in the U.S., citing the FBI on part of that information. 

Garland said, “I want to offer my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this heinous attack. The Justice Department will be relentless in pursuing justice on their behalf." 

"We will do everything in our power to identify, find, and hold accountable the individuals responsible for this attack on American citizens,” he said

The Americans receiving medical care had injuries described as "serious."

Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal said a man in his early 20s from the area identified as "José Guadalupe 'N'" was "guarding" the victims, but was arrested. It was unclear what charges he faced. 

The individuals reportedly crossed from Brownsville, Texas, into Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on March 3. The FBI says they were in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates.

"Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen fired upon the passengers in the vehicle," according to the FBI.

The Associated Press reported that Zalandria Brown, a sister to one of the Americans traveling to Mexico, said her brother and two friends went with another friend to support them while they were preparing for a tummy tuck surgery in Mexico. 

She said her brother Zindell Brown was one of the four missing Americans. 

It's unclear if he was among the survivors.

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Video posted by investigative journalist Gildo Garza is believed to show evidence of the kidnappings. It showed what looked like one person lying motionless in the middle of the street. 

Cars honked as three armed men, including two with bulletproof vests, dragged the body along with three others into a pickup truck.

In a statement, U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar said a Mexican citizen was killed during the gunpoint kidnapping. 

Scripps News geolocated the video to the same area referenced in a State Department alert issued Friday, and was working to confirm its authenticity through official channels.

Andrea Rudnik, the co-founder of nonprofit Team Brownsville, says her organization travels to Matamoros to help asylum seekers.

"We've seen and known about other kidnappings along the border," she said. "We know that it's something that occurs. It's never good, but it's also infrequent."

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador addressed the incident Monday, saying the Americans crossed into the country to buy medication.

"These are people from the United States, and the information we have is that they crossed the border to buy medicine in Mexico, and there was a confrontation between groups, and they were detained," President López Obrador said.

This information has not been released by the FBI, but crossing into Mexico to buy medicine is common.

"Typically the prices are substantially lower than they are in the United States," said Thomas Fullerton, an economics professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. "For some of these these individuals, they can add up to the savings of several hundred, if not a several thousand, dollars per year."

Media reports later surfaced that family members said one of the missing went to Mexico, with friends there for support, to have a medical procedure performed. 

The state of Tamaulipas is on the State Department's Do Not Travel list due to crime and kidnapping, with the department doubling down on the advisory Monday.

President López Obrador said he was hopeful the situation would be resolved soon. He says he is now in constant communication with the governor of Tamaulipas and the Mexican secretary of public security to get more information.

Brown spoke to the Associated Press and said she was in contact with the FBI. 

The woman, from Florence, South Carolina called it a "bad dream you wish you could wake up from."

President Joe Biden, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are shown.

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