Mexico’s Gulf Cartel turned over five members of their Scorpions Group armed wing for their alleged role in the kidnapping of four Americans last week
Cartel left a handwritten note along with the alleged kidnapping crew, strongly condemning the abduction and death of some of the Americans
Cartel bosses also apologized to the families of the victims
Kidnap happened in the northeastern border city of Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas, last Friday
Americans Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee and Eric James Williams were rescued Tuesday, while Shaheed Woodard and Zindell Brown were found dead
A 33-year-old Mexican national, Arely Servando, was killed after she was struck by a stray bullet
Five Gulf Cartel assassins who kidnapped four Americans and killed two have been tied up and dumped in the street by narco bosses.
The suspects were seen smirking as they were arrested in the center of border city Matamoros on Wednesday night – along with a truck used in the abduction.
A note from their bosses, written in Spanish, was left with the henchmen apologizing for the killings and claiming they were happy to hand over those responsible.
The note claims the kidnapping crew, who are members of the notorious Scorpions splinter group, operated outside of ‘cartel rules’. The note said the cartel ‘condemns’ the attack, adding that ‘the CDG [Cartel del Golfo], has always respected the life and integrity of the innocent’.
It comes as questions are being raised over why the Americans were in the cartel-run city in the first place after some sections of the media delved into the past of the victims to reveal previous drug possession charges for the three men and the fact that McGee’s daughter has a drug past.
The Mexico government announced on Thursday it was probing whether the kidnapping ‘could be directly linked to drug trafficking’.
The survivors’ families have claimed they were there so one of the group could get budget tummy tuck surgery.
The note penned by the cartel said: ‘The Gulf Cartel’s Scorpions Group strongly condemns the events of last Friday, March 3 where unfortunately an ‘innocent’ working mother died and 4 American citizens were ‘kidnapped’ of which 2 died’
The Gulf Cartel [Cartel del Golfo, CDG], left behind the note on a white sheet of paper taped to the windshield of a truck, where it tried to apologize for the brutal murders.
‘The Gulf Cartel’s Scorpions Group strongly condemns the events of last Friday, March 3 where unfortunately an ‘innocent’ working mother died and 4 American citizens were ‘kidnapped’ of which 2 died,’ the Spanish-written message read.
The criminal organization, which has been around since the 1930s, claimed the suspects acted on their own.
‘And for this reason, we have decided to hand over those involved and directly responsible for the facts who at all times acted under their own determination and indiscipline and against the rules that ‘The CDG’ has always operated, respecting the life and integrity of the innocent,’ the cartel said.
‘The CDG apologizes to Matamoran society, the relatives of Mrs. Arely, the American individuals and families affected.
‘The CDG asks society to be calm because we are committed to not repeating those errors caused by indiscipline and whoever is responsible will pay!!’
A spokesman for the Tamaulipas State Attorney General’s Office said the five alleged participants have yet to be brought up on charges.
The Gulf Cartel said they the five individuals ‘acted under their own determination and indiscipline and against the rules that ‘The CDG’ has always operated, respecting the life and integrity of the innocent.’
The prosecutor’s office said law enforcement investigators assigned to the kidnapping located and confiscated an ambulance the cartel used to drive the American victims to a local clinic for treatment following the attack.
South Carolina residents Latavia McGee, her cousin Shaeed Woodward and her friends Zindell Brown and Eric James crossed into Matamoros around 9am last Friday and came under attack at about two hours later.
Gulf Cartel henchmen were seen on video forcing McGee into the flatbed of a pickup truck and dumping the bodies of Woodward, Brown and James in the vehicle.
The three men were allegedly accompanying McGee on the road trip from South Carolina across the border for McGee’s tummy tuck surgery.
Mexican law enforcement agents are investigating the possibility that members of the cartel kidnapped the Americans thinking that they were encroaching on their turf, according to an internal government document seen by Reuters, quotes authorities stating, ‘drug trafficking’ cannot be ‘ruled out.’
Latavia McGee, a mother-of-five, and Eric James Williams, who was shot in the leg, were rescued from a cartel stash house six and a half miles away in the rural town of Ejido Tecolote on Tuesday morning. Brown and Woodward were found dead in the house.
Mexican national and Matamoros resident Arely Servando, 33, was struck by a stray bullet and killed on the scene.
A Mexican national identified as Arely Servando, 33, was trapped in the middle of a Gulf Cartel attack on a vehicle conveying the four Americans in the Mexican border city of Matamoros last Friday.
She was struck by a stray bullet and died at the scene.
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, created on Wednesday, that included their names, birthdays and addresses, and details of criminal records.
Among them were convictions for drug-related offenses against Brown and Woodard. the official view was that 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.
A fifth passenger who was denied entry to Mexico where her four friends were later kidnapped by crime the Gulf Cartel said that she thought they’d been arrested because they were known to ‘party and use narcotics.’
Cheryl Orange said that she’d traveled to the southern border with Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee, Eric Williams, Zindell Brown, Shaeed Woodard for her friend’s cosmetic tummy tuck.
Orange’s trip came to a sudden halt when she was denied entry because she lacked the proper identification, while her four friends carried on to Matamoros where they were caught in gang crossfire before being abducted.
Only Williams and McGee surviving the ordeal.
In an text exchange with Associated Press, Orange said that her friends were supposed to return within 15 minutes after dropping McGee to her ‘tummy tuck’ and – when they didn’t return she grew concerned and alerted police.
A case report states that Orange ‘appeared worried and nervous’. It comes as footage of the group driving down to the southern border – filmed in the lead up to the tragic kidnapping – emerged in the wake of their kidnapping.
Two of the Americans, identified by Mexican officials as Shaheed Woodard and Zindell Brown, were found dead on Monday in a wood cabin southeast of Matamoros, the border city in the state of Tamaulipas where the four were abducted on Friday.
Alongside them were their surviving companions, identified as Latavia McGee and Eric James Williams.
Mexican officials, who say they are pursuing various lines of inquiry.
Américo Villarreal Anaya, governor of Tamaulipas, said during a news conference on Monday that the group had gone to Matamoros because McGee was planning to have some cosmetic surgery done, citing testimony from their relatives and U.S. officials.
Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios told the same news conference the four were likely mistaken for somebody else, while stressing that other lines of investigation remained open.
From the onset authorities suspected the abduction was executed by a faction of the Gulf Cartel had an ‘iron grip’ on illegal activities in the area, and pointed to members of the group as likely perpetrators of the kidnapping on the basis of intelligence gathered.
Mexican officials have not yet specified the cause of death of Brown and Woodard. Their bodies are due to be returned to the United States from Mexico very soon.
Local Mexican outlets reported the arrest of five people found handcuffed on the night of March 8, in the streets of downtown Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
They had cardboard signs with them pointing them out as those responsible for the kidnapping of the ‘tummy tuck four’.
Earlier this week at least one person had been arrested in connection with the incident.
’24-year-old Jose ‘N’ was arrested. He was in charge of monitoring the victims,’ he said, noting the victims ‘were found in a house near a place known as La Lagunona in the town of El Tecolote in Matamoros.
‘During the three days after the criminal act, the four people were transferred to various places, including a clinic in order to create confusion and avoid rescue work,’ he said.
Mexican authorities said they were able to scan public surveillance cameras in the area to determine ‘the number of cartel vehicles that were involved in the attack.’ Investigators also scanned medical facilities in Matamoros in hopes of finding the kidnapping victims.
The Tamaulipas State Attorney General’s Office said that the four American citizens were found at about 7:30am Tuesday, four days after the kidnap.
In the lead up to the rescue, Mexican newspaper Milenio cites law enforcement officials were investigating whether the group was kidnapped by members of the ‘Gulf Cartel,’ a notoriously violent gang run by a feared leader Alberto García Vilano, also known as La Kena.
Mexican authorities had been hunting him La Kena for months and are offering a reward of 2.5million pesos for any information that could lead to his arrest.
The State Department has a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning in place for Tamaulipas state due to ‘crime and kidnapping.’
It said organized crime activity, including gun battles, armed robberies and kidnappings, are common along the border and in Ciudad Victoria: ‘Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments,’ the warning states.