Two American citizens were killed and another wounded after being kidnapped by members of a Mexican cartel while traveling in Mexico last week. The victims had crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas, into the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, when their minivan was hit by gunfire. The van collided with another vehicle before armed men emerged from a third vehicle, forced the four Americans into the back of a white truck, and fled the scene. Two of the victims were loaded into the back by the armed men and may have already been dead.
According to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, the two surviving Americans have since been repatriated back to the United States with the assistance of Mexican authorities. The two were transported in Brownsville, Texas, ambulances with a law enforcement escort over the Veterans International Bridge and taken to Valley Regional Medical center in Brownsville to receive treatment.
"We are in the process of working to repatriate the remains of the two Americans who were killed in this incident," Price said at a news conference on Tuesday.
There is a conflict on what the Americans were doing in Mexico as the sister of one of victims stated that one of the victims was traveling to receive a "tummy tuck" but Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that the Americans had come acreoss the border to purchase medicine. One person is in custody in connection with the abduction, the Associated Press reported.
The victims were traveling in a minivan with North Carolina plates when they were attacked. The identities of the surviving victims were released as Latiavia McGee and Eric James. The deceased victims were identified as Zindell Brown and Shaeed Wooard. Kidnappings and violence are not uncommon in the border region between the United States and Mexico, where cartels often operate. The incident is currently under investigation by both U.S. and Mexican authorities.