The story is truly horrific. The dangerous Gulf cartel kidnapped four Americans crossing the Mexican border at Brownsville, Texas, near Matamoros. The official story is that the minivan they were driving crashed after it was fired on shortly after it crossed the border. Also part of the official story was the reason for the Americans’ trip to one of the most dangerous towns in Mexico: one of the women was going to get some cosmetic surgery.
Why was the minivan fired on? Apparently, it was just bad luck. The Americans got caught in a crossfire between two factions of the Gulf Cartel. Why the cartel took them prisoner rather than execute them is just one of the holes in this story that’s not adding up.
On Tuesday, Mexican authorities found the Americans — two dead, two wounded — in a drug stash house just a few miles from where their minivan was shot up.
Mexican authorities are now investigating the Americans for what may have led to the shootout.
Mexican officials, who say they are pursuing various lines of inquiry, drew up a brief document summarizing the abduction of the Americans and biographical information on them. The metadata of the digital document suggested it was created on Wednesday.
It included their names, birthdays and addresses, and details of criminal records. Among them were convictions for drug-related offenses against Brown and Woodard.
In view of the prior convictions, “it cannot be ruled out that the attack against (the Americans) could be directly linked to drug trafficking operations,” which their assailants believed the Americans could be carrying out, the document said.
The Daily Mail got a hold of the rap sheets for all four Americans. Eric Williams was busted for selling crack near a school while Latavia McGee was charged with “unlawful conduct towards a child” when her daughter tested positive for amphetamines.
Shaeed Woodard was charged with the “manufacturing and possession” of drugs and pleaded guilty, while Zindell Brown was also charged with “possession of marijuana or hashish.”
One odd note: The Americans crossed the Mexican border at 9:18 a.m. from Brownsville. But they weren’t ambushed by the cartel until 11:45 a.m. What were they doing for more than two hours in one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico — a city already cited by the State Department as unsafe?
All Americans had lengthy criminal records going back to when they were juveniles. But the question remains: why were four Americans with a history of participating in drug crimes in Matamoros — one of the Gulf Cartel’s headquarters?
Also odd: A letter apologizing for the carnage was left inside the vehicle authorities had been searching for in connection with the kidnappings. The letter appeared to be from the cartel. This is apparently not unusual as the cartel — like terrorists elsewhere — knows how to play the PR game.
“We have decided to turn over those who were directly involved and responsible in the events, who at all times acted under their own decision-making and lack of discipline,” the letter reads. The writer wanted it be known that the cartel is all about “respecting the life and well-being of the innocent.”
A photograph of five men face down on the pavement and bound accompanied the letter, which was shared with The Associated Press by the source on condition that they remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share the document.
State officials did not immediately publicly confirm having new suspects in custody.
A separate state security official said that five men had been found tied up inside one of the vehicles that authorities had been searching for, along with the letter. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the case.
There is much more to this story, but what’s certain is that the narrative that four innocent Americans went south of the border for one of them to get a “tummy tuck” doesn’t pass the smell test. The Americans were hardly “innocent,” and what happened after they crossed the border into Mexico is up for debate. Was it a drug deal gone bad? A case of mistaken identity? A tragic accident?
It would be nice to get some answers to this mystery.