The FBI announced in a statement that four Americans are missing after being attacked and abducted from a car in Mexico by unknown armed individuals.
According to Special Agent Oliver Rich, who oversees the FBI’s San Antonio Division, the Americans came under fire from the men soon after crossing the border through Matamoros on Friday, in the Tamaulipas state, across from Brownsville, Texas.
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Driving a white minivan with North Carolina registration plates, the victims entered Mexico. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the four Americans and armed men then put them into another vehicle and drove them away from the site, according to the FBI.
The identities of those who were allegedly kidnapped have not been made public by law officials. As of Monday morning, nothing was known about the four individuals’ health.
On Friday, the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros sent out a warning regarding a gunshot in the city. Although one person had reportedly been killed, according to the message, the consulate was unable to independently corroborate the incident.
To find the Americans and identify those guilty of the kidnapping, the FBI is asking for the public’s assistance. The organization declared a $50,000 prize for the victims’ safe return and the capture of those responsible.
According to the FBI, the abduction is being investigated along with other federal partners and Mexican law enforcement organizations, multiple outlets reported.
At least since the start of the Mexican Drug War in 2006, Matamoros, a border city of more than 500,000 people in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, directly across from Brownsville, Texas, has been plagued by bloodshed and organized crime.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the city is home to the Gulf Cartel, a once-dominant smuggling organization that has fragmented into small, rival groups. It was where a sizable tent camp of migrants, mostly from Haiti and Venezuela, camped out in Matamoros to enter the US and apply for refuge.
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For instance, authorities advised parents to keep their children home from school due to two shootings in the city on the same day as the alleged kidnappings.
For US citizens considering visiting Tamaulipas, the US State Department has issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning citing crime and kidnapping. Criminal organizations frequently kidnap passengers from passenger buses, both public and private, as well as from private cars moving through Tamaulipas, according to a State Department advisory.
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