Letter claims cartel turned over men who killed Americans – Boston News, Weather, Sports
CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) – A letter claiming to be from the Mexican drug cartel blamed Kidnapping of four Americans and killing two of them condemned the violence and said the gang turned its own responsible members over to the authorities.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press through a Tamaulipas state police officer, the Scorpions faction of the Gulf cartel apologized to residents of Matamoros, where the Americans were kidnapped, to the Mexican woman who died in the cartel shooting, and to the four Americans and their families.
“We have decided to extradite those who were directly involved in and responsible for the events, who acted at all times based on their own decision-making and lack of discipline,” the letter reads, adding that these individuals are breaking the cartel’s rules would have violated. This includes “respecting the lives and well-being of innocent people”.
Drug cartels have been known to issue communiqués to intimidate rivals and authorities, but also as public relations work at times like this to try to smooth over situations that might affect their business. And last Friday’s violence in Matamoros was bad for cartel business.
The American killings led to National Guard troops and a special army unit conducting patrols that, in narco terminology, “heat up the place,” said Mexican security analyst David Saucedo.
“It is currently very difficult for them to continue their work related to the sale of drugs at street level and the transfer of drugs to the United States. They’re the first ones interested in closing this chapter as soon as possible,” Saucedo said.
A photo of five tied up men lying face down on the sidewalk accompanied the letter, which the officer shared with The Associated Press on condition they remain anonymous as they were not authorized to read the document to share.
State officials did not immediately publicly confirm that new suspects had been taken into custody.
Another state security officer said five men were found tied up in one of the vehicles the authorities were looking for, along with the letter. This officer also spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak about the case.
The cousin of one of the victims said his family felt “great” to know that Eric Williams, who was shot in the left leg, was alive, but he didn’t accept apologies from the cartel that blamed the Americans’ kidnapping becomes.
“It’s not going to change the suffering we’ve been through,” Jerry Wallace told the AP on Thursday. Wallace, 62, called on the US and Mexican governments to take better action against antitrust violence.
Last Friday, the four Americans drove from Texas to Matamoros so one of them could have cosmetic surgery. Around noon they were fired upon in downtown Matamoros and then loaded into a pickup truck. A Mexican woman, Areli Pablo Servando, 33, was also killed, apparently by a stray bullet.
Another friend who stayed in Brownsville called the police after failing to reach the group that crossed the border on Friday morning.
Brownsville Police Department spokesman Martin Sandoval said Thursday that officers followed protocol by checking local hospitals and jails after receiving the missing persons report. A detective was assigned to the case within an hour and then alerted the FBI after determining the individuals had entered Mexico. Shortly after, the FBI took over the case as social media videos began show shooting with the victims matching the description of the missing.
Authorities found them Tuesday morning on the outskirts of town, guarded by an arrested man. Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard died in the attack; Williams and Latavia McGee survived.
On Thursday, two hearses carrying the bodies of Woodard and Brown crossed the international bridge into Brownsville, where the remains were turned over to US authorities.
According to his father James Woodard, Woodard’s cousin McGee surprised him with the deadly road trip as a birthday trip. He said he was speechless to hear the cartel had apologized for the violent kidnapping that killed his son and was captured in footage that quickly circulated online.
“Just being helpless — not being able to do anything, not going there and just being able to save her — it’s really painful,” James Woodard said.
Thursday’s letter was not an outrageous cartel tactic.
The cartel’s community relations efforts are well known in Mexico. In contested areas, a cartel could hang banners in a city blaming a rival for recent violence and portraying itself as the gang that doesn’t mess with civilians.
Banners allegedly written by the Jalisco New Generation cartel, blaming a rival for a spate of killings in bars and other businesses, surfaced in Guanajuato state last November.
In other situations, the message is more blunt: bodies are left in a vehicle with a note, or hung up at a freeway overpass on a busy road. The motivation is terror.
In more subtle ways, cartels use their power to spread stories in the local press or prevent stories from appearing. Its members are active on social media.
Their underlying interest is to facilitate their business, be it smuggling drugs and migrants or extortion.
Sometimes a cartel will fire into its rival’s territory in hopes of triggering a law enforcement response to make business harder for its opponents. That’s what seemed to be happening two years ago in Reynosa, just across the border from Matamoros. Gunmen drove into the city, shot and killed 14 innocent bystanders.
The transfer of alleged cartel suspects to the police is also not without precedent. Saucedo warned that a cartel leader might have authorized the attack, but then regretted it and decided to offer sacrificial lambs to the police.
In 2008, drug dealers threw hand grenades at a crowd celebrating Mexico’s independence in Michoacan, killing eight. Days later, authorities arrested three suspects, but it turned out they had been kidnapped by a cartel, beaten into confessions involving a rival group and handed over to the police.
Meanwhile, Tamaulipas prosecutors said Thursday they had seized an ambulance and medical clinic in Matamoros said to have been used to treat Americans after the shooting.
The Americans told investigators they were taken to the clinic in an ambulance to provide first aid, the statement said. By reviewing police surveillance footage across the city, authorities were able to identify the ambulance and locate the clinic. According to the statement, no arrests were made at the clinic.
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