Mexico kidnappings: What we know about abduction of four Americans in Matamoros, Tamaulipas

The FBI has launched an appeal for information after four American citizens were ambushed and kidnapped at gunpoint in Mexico on Friday 3 March.

An investigation involving the FBI, federal partners and Mexican law enforcement agencies is currently underway to find them.

Oliver Rich, special agent in charge of the San Antonio Division of the FBI, said in a press release that the bureau is seeking the public’s help in identifying the assailants.

A reward of $50,000 is being offered for tip-offs leading to the return of the victims and the arrest of their captors.

Details regarding the incident are currently sparse but here is everything we do know so far about this developing story.

Ambushed on arrival from Texas

According to the US Embassy & Consulates in Mexico, the group had crossed into the north eastern state of Tamaulipas on the Gulf Coast from Brownsville, Texas, driving a white minivan with North Carolina licence plates.

Shortly after they had entered the country, they were attacked by gunmen in the border city of Matamoros.

After firing on the van, the attackers then moved the passengers to another vehicle and drove them away from the scene, the embassy said.

The identities of the Americans has not yet been disclosed and the purpose of their trip has not yet been substantiated.

On Monday morning, an unnamed US official said the four Americans were not the intended targets and they had traveled to Matamoros for medical procedures.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the group were in the country looking to buy medicine.

“The information we have is that they crossed the border to buy medicines in Mexico, there was a confrontation between groups and they were detained,” the president said. “The whole government is working on it.”

Video purports to show attack

Video circulated on social media allegedly captured the terrifying ambush.

It purports to show armed men forcing a woman into the back of a pickup truck.

The three other Americans are then dragged into the vehicle as well while appearing unconscious.

The video has not been officially verified and the FBI has made no public comment on it.

Cartel gangland shootouts

Matamoros is notorious as a centre for gang violence and illegal migrant smuggling and is dominated by the Gulf drug cartel.

Tamaulipas state police said on its social media channel that people had been killed and injured in two shootouts in Matamoros on Friday in which neither the military nor police had been involved but did not offer any further detail on the shootings or say whether the kidnappings were connected.

(The Independent/Datawrapper)

“There have been two armed incidents between unidentified civilians,” it said. “The exact number of the fallen is being corroborated.”

A video widely shared on social media, allegedly filmed in the city on Friday, shows people being dragged and dumped into the rear of a white flatbed truck parked in the middle of a busy street by armed men wearing bulletproof jackets, although it has yet to be verified, which, if either, of the incidents it relates to.

Americans advised against travelling

The US State Department has advised Americans not to travel to Tamaulipas due to the risk of crime and kidnapping, with the region featuring on its “Level 4: Do Not Travel” list.

The US Consulate in Matamoros issued a warning to its employees on Friday in response to the latest outbreak of violence.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741 or to submit tips anonymously online here.

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