CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) — Two of four Americans were killed in Mexico when their van was caught in the crossfire of rival cartel groups last week, a top Mexican official said Tuesday. The two others are alive, with one wounded.
Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal confirmed the deaths by phone during a morning news conference by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, saying details about the four abducted Americans had been confirmed by prosecutors.
The FBI had reported Sunday that it was searching with Mexican authorities for the missing Americans, who were kidnapped Friday. A relative of one of them said Monday that they had traveled together from South Carolina so one of them could get a tummy tuck from a Matamoros doctor.
Shortly after entering Mexico on Friday they were in the crossfire of rival cartel groups. A video showed them being loaded into the back of a pickup truck by gunmen.
“Of the four, two of them are dead, one person is wounded and the other is alive and right now the ambulances and the rest of the security personnel are going for them for give the corresponding support,” Villarreal said
The governor did not share any additional details about where or how they were found. He was expected to share more information at his own daily news conference scheduled for later Tuesday morning.
The U.S. citizens were found in a rural area east of Matamoros called Ejido Longoreño on the way to the local beach known as Playa Baghdad, according to a state authority who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the case. Word of their location came to authorities before dawn Tuesday.
Mexican officials said a Mexican woman also had died in Fridays’ crossfire.
The incident illustrates the terror that has prevailed for years in Matamoros, a city dominated by factions of the powerful Gulf drug cartel who often fight among themselves. Amid the violence, thousands of Mexicans have disappeared in Tamaulipas state alone.