4 Americans missing in Mexico identified by family members as a South Carolina mother and her friends who were traveling for a medical procedure | CNN (2023)

4 Americans missing in Mexico identified by family members as a South Carolina mother and her friends who were traveling for a medical procedure | CNN (1)

Video shows people being loaded into a truck by armed men in Mexico

03:23 - Source: CNN


(Video) Americans seeking medical procedure kidnapped in Mexico

The four Americans who authorities say were kidnapped in Mexico on Friday were a tight-knit group of friends traveling from South Carolina so one of them – a mother of six – could undergo a medical procedure across the border, two family members told CNN.

Latavia “Tay” Washington McGee, 33, drove to Mexico with Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown and their friend Eric for the procedure but she never made it to her doctor’s appointment on Friday, her mother Barbara Burgess told CNN.

Mapbox 4 US citizens were kidnapped by gunmen in Mexico in case of mistaken identity, US official says

On Sunday, Burgess said she was informed by the FBI that her daughter had been kidnapped and was in danger. “They said if she calls me to call them,” she said.

Mexican authorities are still searching for the missing Americans, who drove into the border city of Matamoros on Friday, where they were fired upon by unidentified gunman and “placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” according to the FBI.

An innocent Mexican bystander was also killed in the encounter, US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said.

Investigators believe the Americans were mistakenly targeted by a Mexican cartel that likely mistook them for Haitian drug smugglers, a US official familiar with the ongoing investigation tells CNN.

The US citizens have no concerning criminal history that has been identified by investigators, the source said.

The group of friends, who were bonded “like glue,” grew up together in South Carolina, Brown’s sister Zalandria Brown told CNN. She added, that she and her brother are also close. “Zindell is like my shadow, he’s like my son, he’s like my hip bone. We’re just tight like that.”

This was the second time Washington McGee, a mother of six children, had gone to Mexico for a medical procedure, her mother said. About two to three years ago, Burgess said, her daughter traveled to the country for a surgery.

Mexico has become a popular destination for “medical tourism,” attracting travelers who may be seeking cheaper alternatives or medical treatments that are unapproved or unavailable in the US. But the CDC warns the growing trend can carry dangerous risks depending on the destination and facility, including infection and possible post-procedure complications.

4 Americans missing in Mexico identified by family members as a South Carolina mother and her friends who were traveling for a medical procedure | CNN (3)

A member of the Mexican security forces stands next to a white minivan with North Carolina plates and several bullet holes.

(Video) One of four kidnapped Americans in Mexico reportedly from South Carolina

Receipts found in the group’s vehicle also indicated the Americans were in Mexico for medical procedures, a US official with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that the group had crossed the border to “buy medicines” and assured the “whole government” is working to resolve the case.

Federal and local Mexican authorities are participating in the effort to locate the missing Americans, Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica said Monday.

The White House and US State Department are “closely following” the case, spokespeople said in briefings Monday.

“These sorts of attacks are unacceptable. Our thoughts are with the families of these individuals and we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday, adding that the State and Homeland Security departments are coordinating with Mexican authorities.

“We will continue to coordinate with Mexico and push them to bring those responsible to justice,” Jean-Pierre said.

CNN has reached out to the FBI, the Tamaulipas Secretary of Public Security’s office and the Mexican Attorney General’s Office for more information.

‘We don’t know if she is dead or alive’

Washington McGee’s aunt, Mary McFadden, told CNN that when the family hadn’t heard from the group of friends by Sunday, they began searching online for any news related to their travel destination. Then, the family saw a video McFadden described as showing her niece being kidnapped.

“We recognized her and her blonde hair,” McFadden said. She said she also recognized her niece’s clothing from a live video Washington McGee had posted to Facebook earlier Friday.

(Video) 4 U.S. citizens missing, feared kidnapped in Matamoros, Mexico

“This happened in plain daylight. We don’t know if she is dead or alive. The last picture we saw, she was walking alive,” McFadden said.

“She is a mother and we need her to come back here for her kids,” she said, adding that Washington McGee’s children range in age from 6 to 18 years old.

A video obtained by CNN shows a woman and other unidentified people being roughly loaded into a white pickup truck. CNN has confirmed the video matches the incident but has not independently confirmed it is the four Americans shown in the video.

The video shows the woman being pulled or pushed onto the bed of the truck by two unidentified people as a third visibly armed man watches. The three men then appear to drag at least two limp people onto the truck bed, the video shows.

Additionally, photos obtained by CNN appear to show fragments of the scene where the situation occurred, including the car believed to have been driven by the Americans crashed with another vehicle before they were taken at gunpoint from the scene.

The US citizens were driving a white minivan with North Carolina plates, according to the FBI in San Antonio.

The FBI would not confirm the authenticity of the photos, but CNN has geolocated the images and confirmed their authenticity with a US official with knowledge of the investigation.

4 Americans missing in Mexico identified by family members as a South Carolina mother and her friends who were traveling for a medical procedure | CNN (4)

Two vehicles rest in Matamoros, Mexico, at the scene which a US official said is connected to the missing Americans.

The photos also show a woman looking at and then sitting next to three people lying on the ground outside a white minivan. All the doors of the van are open. It is unclear whether the four people in the photos are the US citizens.

(Video) 2 Americans kidnapped in Mexico found dead, 2 are alive, Mexican officials say | full video

The woman then appears to have been loaded onto the bed of a white pickup truck, beside which several people can be seen lying on the street, the photos show.

One photo shows that an ambulance arrived, but it’s unclear if medical attention was being provided.

Search for missing Americans and investigation underway

Investigators trying to locate the US citizens and identify those involved in the alleged kidnapping have been working to gather surveillance footage, collect ballistics and fingerprint evidence, take biological samples for genetic profiles and process the vehicles involved, Tamaulipas officials said.

A joint task force of federal and state agencies has been created for “processing all the information related to the case” and maintaining constant communication with US officials, Barrios Mojica, the Tamaulipas Attorney General, said.

“Given the presumption that they are American citizens, a line of direct communication was established with US authorities to exchange information and dedicated to locating them. These communications are being carried out at the highest level between the State Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the United States Embassy in Mexico,” Barrios Mojica said.

The FBI is also requesting the public’s help in finding the Americans and identifying anyone involved in the incident. The agency announced a $50,000 reward for the return of the victims and the arrest of those responsible.

Ongoing violence has plagued some Mexican cities as they become the backdrop of organized crime and drug trafficking operations, which the country’s government has been battling since at least 2006.

Matamoros, a city in the state of Tamaulipas, has a population of more than 500,000 people and is located just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas. The city has recently been the site of a large encampment of asylum-seeking migrants hoping to cross into the US.

The US State Department has issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for US citizens thinking of going to Tamaulipas, citing crime and kidnapping.

“Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments,” the State Department advisory says.

CNN’s Josh Campbell, Paul Murphy, Rosa Flores, Sam Fossum, Andi Babineau, Polo Sandoval, Rebekah Reiss and Jorge Engels contributed to this report.

(Video) 4 Americans kidnapped in Mexico


Who were the 4 kidnapped Americans in Mexico? ›

(From left to right) LaTavia Washington McGee and Eric Williams survived the kidnapping, while Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were killed. Meanwhile, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were found dead, a US official familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN.

Who are the 4 kidnapped Americans? ›

Ms. Grant said that along with her brother, Mr. Brown, the three other kidnapping victims were Latavia Washington McGee, Shaeed Woodard and Eric James Williams.

Who were the Americans that were kidnapped in Mexico? ›

Mexico's security secretary identified the surviving Americans as Latavia "Tay" McGee and Eric James Williams. Earlier, CBS News learned the other two Americans were identified as Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard.

What Americans were killed in Mexico? ›

Officials said Latavia McGee and Eric Williams were rescued in Mexico. The other two others who traveled with them, Woodard and Zindell Brown, were killed.

Why were 4 Americans in Mexico? ›

The group of four Americans — all childhood friends — came under attack in Mexico on Friday as they were in the country for a medical procedure for one of them, according to authorities and family.

Who did the US send into Mexico to capture Villa What happened? ›

Pershing launched a punitive expedition into Mexico to capture or kill Villa and disperse his rebels. The expedition eventually involved some 10,000 U.S. troops and personnel. It was the first U.S. military operation to employ mechanized vehicles, including automobiles and airplanes.

Did they find the 4 kidnapped in Mexico? ›

Two of the four Americans kidnapped by armed gunmen in the Mexico border city of Matamoros on Friday were found dead and two were found alive on Tuesday, US and Mexican officials said. Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were found dead, a US official familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN.

What is the most famous child kidnapping? ›

Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., 20-month-old son of the famous aviator and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was kidnapped about 9:00 p.m., on March 1, 1932, from the nursery on the second floor of the Lindbergh home near Hopewell, New Jersey.

Who was the first kid to get kidnapped? ›

On July 1, 1874 two little boys were abducted in front of their family's mansion. It was the first kidnapping for ransom in the history of the United States, and would be the major event of its kind until the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. The boys were named Charley and Walter Ross; they were 4 and 6 years old.

In what country were 17 missionaries most of them from the US kidnapped? ›

All 17 missionaries kidnapped by a gang in Haiti have been released All 17 of the missionaries kidnapped in Haiti two months ago have now been freed.

Who was a Mexican revolutionary known for attacking the US? ›

Angered over American support of his rivals for the control of Mexico, the peasant-born revolutionary leader Pancho Villa attacks the border town of Columbus, New Mexico.

Who brought more than 100 families from Mexico to Texas? ›

One of the most famous empresarios, Stephen F. Austin, brought 300 families to settle Texas – a group sometimes referred to as the “Old Three Hundred.” The tracts offered were vast – 4,605 acres for each family. As empresario, Austin would be compensated with an even larger parcel of land.

What was the number one killer of the natives in Mexico? ›

The native people of Mexico experienced an epidemic disease in the wake of European conquest (Figure 1), beginning with the smallpox epidemic of 1519 to 1520 when 5 million to 8 million people perished.

What caused the most deaths in the Mexican-American War? ›

Of the total 12,535 war deaths, 10,986 (88%) were due to infectious diseases (overwhelmingly dysentery, both bacterial and amoebic); seven men died from disease for every man killed by Mexican musket balls.

How many Americans were lost in the Mexican-American War? ›

Consequences of the Mexican-American War

Historians estimate that 25,000 Mexican soldiers died, as well as 15,000 American soldiers.

What brought Mexican immigrants to the US? ›

Historically, most Mexicans have been economic immigrants seeking to improve their lives. In moments of civil strife, such as the Mexican Revolution (1910–1917) and the Cristero Revolt (1926–1929), many fled to the United States to escape religious and political persecution.

Why do so many Mexicans come to the US? ›

The main reason why Mexicans emigrate to the United States is to improve their economic situation. Other motives exist, such as kinship relations in the destination city, but if the disparities in income opportunities were lower between the two countries, this would override kinship relations.

Why did the US get involved with Mexico? ›

It stemmed from the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the U.S. in 1845 and from a dispute over whether Texas ended at the Nueces River (the Mexican claim) or the Rio Grande (the U.S. claim).

Did Pancho Villa get caught? ›

That drew the deployment of a U.S. military expedition into Mexico, but Villa eluded capture during the 11-month manhunt. Pardoned by Mexican President Adolfo de la Huerta in 1920, Villa retired to a quiet life at his ranch until his assassination.

What happened to Pancho Villa? ›

At the end of the Mexican Revolution, after his army dwindles, Villa negotiates an amnesty with the Mexican government and retires his military pursuits in 1920, only to be assassinated in an ambush three years later in 1923.

What did the U.S. pay for the land it took from Mexico? ›

The United States paid Mexico $15,000,000 "in consideration of the extension acquired by the boundaries of the United States" (see Article XII of the treaty) and agreed to pay American citizens debts owed to them by the Mexican government (see Article XV).

Where were the 4 Americans taken in Mexico? ›

Four US citizens were kidnapped by armed men on 3 March while driving into the city of Matamoros in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, across the border from Texas.

Where did kidnapped take place? ›

Kidnapped is set in Scotland just after the Jacobite rebellions and is narrated by the teenager David Balfour. The recently orphaned David leaves rural Essendean to seek his fortune with his relatives, the Balfours of the House of Shaws.

Where did Jaycee Dugard go missing? ›

In 1991, then-11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped from her home in Meyers, California. She was found 18 years later, and her captor, Phillip Garrido, was arrested for kidnapping and raping Dugard, holding her captive all that time while fathering her two children.

Which car is famous for kidnapping? ›

Mostly used for cheap transportation, the Maruti car is infamous as a kidnapping vehicle in Bollywood movies. It was first introduced in India in 1984.

Which car is used most for kidnapping? ›

Maruti Omni, the official kidnapping car of India.

What is the kidnapping capital of the USA? ›

"In what officials caution is now a dangerous and even deadly crime wave, Phoenix, Arizona has become the kidnapping capital of America, with more incidents than any other city in the world outside of Mexico City and over 370 cases last year alone," according to a report by Brian Ross, Richard Esposito and Asa Eslocker ...

Who is the longest missing child found alive? ›

Jaycee Dugard was 11 years old when she was snatched near her Tahoe, Calif., school in 1991 by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. After being held captive for 18 years and giving birth to two daughters fathered by her abductor, a convicted sex offender, Dugard was reunited with her family in 2009.

What age is most kidnapped? ›

Children under the age of 6 are most frequently targeted for family abductions and these often occur in the midst of bitter divorce or child custody battles between parents.

What is the biggest kidnapping in history? ›

The 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping was the abduction of a school bus driver and 26 children, ages 5 to 14, in Chowchilla, California, United States, on July 15, 1976.

Did the kidnapped missionaries get released? ›

An unidentified person paid a ransom that freed three missionaries kidnapped by a gang in Haiti under an agreement that was supposed to have led to the release of all 15 remaining captives early last month, workers for their Ohio-based organization have confirmed.

Did the 17 missionaries get rescued? ›

All of the kidnapped missionaries in Haiti have now been released. Their captors from the 400 Mawozo gang initially demanded millions of dollars in ransom. Five other captives had earlier reached freedom.

Did the 17 missionaries get released? ›

All 17 hostages have been set free in Haiti

They were working for an Ohio-based organisation called Christian Aid Ministries which organises missionary trips.

Who was the Mexican revolutionary who invaded the United States and killed some Americans in 1916? ›

Pancho Villa's forces then raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico, on March 9, 1916, resulting in the death of sixteen Americans and much larger casualties for Villa's forces. In response, the Wilson Administration decided to order a punitive raid into Mexico with the goal of capturing Pancho Villa.

Who was the Mexican revolutionary who spawned the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1916 after he raided Columbus New Mexico? ›

Pancho Villa Attacks Columbus, New Mexico (March 9, 1916)

President Woodrow Wilson was trying to stay out of the Mexican Revolution following U.S. recognition of Carranza. Two months later, Wilson was forced to intervene when, on 9 March 1916, Pancho Villa attacked U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

Who was the main American general who led the invasion of Mexico? ›

The U.S. Army, under Major General Winfield Scott, invaded the Mexican heartland and captured the capital, Mexico City, in September 1847.

What does old 300 mean? ›

The title Old 300 refers to the settlers who received land grants as part of Stephen F. Austin's first colonial contract in Mexican Texas. These families had come from the Trans-Appalachian South and were virtually all of British ancestry, many of whom already had substantial means before their arrival.

Who owned Texas before Mexico? ›

In 1821, the Mexican War for Independence severed the control that Spain had exercised on its North American territories, and the new country of Mexico was formed from much of the lands that had comprised New Spain, including Spanish Texas.

Who would lead the 300 families into Texas? ›

Austin's first three hundred families. The colonization of what is today Fort Bend County began in the early 1820s when the Spanish government permitted pioneer Moses Austin to settle 300 families in the valleys of the Brazos and Colorado rivers.

What killed the Native Americans the most? ›

Smallpox was the disease brought by Europeans that was most destructive to the Native Americans, both in terms of morbidity and mortality. The first well-documented smallpox epidemic in the Americas began in Hispaniola in late 1518 and soon spread to Mexico.

Are there any Aztecs left? ›

Today the descendants of the Aztecs are referred to as the Nahua. More than one-and-a-half million Nahua live in small communities dotted across large areas of rural Mexico, earning a living as farmers and sometimes selling craft work. Most Nahua worship in the local church and take part in church festivities.

What disease killed most of the Native American population? ›

They had never experienced smallpox, measles or flu before, and the viruses tore through the continent, killing an estimated 90% of Native Americans. Smallpox is believed to have arrived in the Americas in 1520 on a Spanish ship sailing from Cuba, carried by an infected African slave.

What is the number one cause of death in Mexicans? ›

Leading Causes of Death – Males – Hispanic – United States, 2016
Hispanic, Male, All agesPercent
1) Heart disease20.2%
2) Cancer19.8%
3) Unintentional injuries11.1%
4) Stroke4.6%
6 more rows

What is the Mexican-American War most known for? ›

It paved the way for so many other important events, from the expansion and dispossession of indigenous people, the California Gold Rush, and American Civil War. It added the states of California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming to the United States.

What were the 3 main causes of the Mexican-American War? ›

The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 was a combination of Mexican unwillingness to recognize Texas independence, the desire of Texans for statehood, and American desire for westward expansion.

Why are American soldiers buried in Mexico? ›

Three years after the war, two acres of land in Mexico City were purchased by the American government. The land was secured to bury the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in and around the city. Soldiers were recovered from shallow battlefield graves and given a proper burial in the cemetery.

Who won the Mexican-American War Why? ›

The United States Army won a grand victory. Although suffering 13,000 killed, the military won every engagement of the war. Mexico was stripped of half of its territory and was not consoled by the monetary settlement.

What was the biggest outcome of the Mexican-American War? ›

Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which settled the Mexican-American War, the United States gained more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 square km) of land, expanding U.S. territory by about one-third.

Did they ever find the 43 missing students in Mexico? ›

Details remain unclear on what happened during and after the roadblock, but the government investigation concluded that 43 of the students were taken into custody and were handed over to the local Guerreros Unidos ("United Warriors") drug cartel and probably killed.

Who was the most wanted person in Mexico? ›

FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive Jose Rodolfo Villarreal-Hernandez Captured in Mexico. FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive Jose Rodolfo Villarreal-Hernandez, also known as "El Gato," was arrested Saturday, January 7, 2023, by Mexican authorities.

Who was the most famous Mexican bandit? ›

Pancho Villa. After Moctezuma and Benito Juarez, Pancho Villa is considered the most widely known Mexican throughout the world. He is seen as a Robin Hood, bandit, killer, womanizer, and since 1812, the only foreigner to have invaded, attacked, and killed Americans inside our borders.

Who stole Texas from Mexico? ›

The U.S. War on Mexico secured Texas as part of the southern empire of slavery and took another 1,370,154 square kilometers (529,017 square miles) of land, nearly half of the original territory of Mexico, as spoils of war.

How many missing children are actually found? ›

Data: State by State
Missing StateCase StatusTotal
15 more rows

Has missing Maya been found? ›

May “Maya” Millete supporters put up banners at San Miguel Park in Chula Vista before a candlelight vigil in October 2020, nine months after she disappeared. Her husband Larry Millete is charged with her murder. Her body has not been found.

What happened to the 43 Ayotzinapa students? ›

Six of the 43 college students "disappeared" in 2014 were allegedly kept alive in a warehouse for days then turned over to the local army commander who ordered them killed, the Mexican government official leading a Truth Commission said Friday.

Who is the number one most wanted man in the world? ›

1. Joaquin Guzman. Joaquin Guzman is one of the world's most wanted men. He is originally from Mexico, controlling his territory over its areas.

What is the richest cartel in the world? ›

CEO of the Sinaloa cartel, "El Chapo" is the world's most powerful drug trafficker. The cartel is responsible for an estimated 25% of all illegal drugs that enter the U.S. via Mexico. Drug enforcement experts estimate, conservatively, that the cartel's annual revenues may exceed $3 billion.

Are there any Mexican cowboys? ›

“The legacies and traditions of the vaquero exist today in modern day rodeo and ranching,” Rangel says. “If you look at how ranches work in places like Texas and even western Nebraska today, you can see that vaquero culture still exists. And vaqueros, or Mexican cowboys, are still doing this work.”

Who is the most famous Mexican gunslinger? ›

Joaquín Murrieta, Murrieta also spelled Murieta, (baptized 1830, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico? —died 1853, California, U.S.?), legendary bandit who became a hero of the Mexican-Americans in California.

What is a Mexican gunslinger called? ›

"Vaquero" is the name for a Mexican cowboy and the likely term that evolved into the Anglo word for cowboy, "buckaroo."

What land did the U.S. steal from Mexico? ›

This treaty, signed on February 2, 1848, ended the war between the United States and Mexico. By its terms, Mexico ceded 55 percent of its territory, including the present-day states California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, most of Arizona and Colorado, and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming.

Why didn t the U.S. take all of Mexico? ›

Why didn't United States take all of Mexico? The United States did not want to rule so many Mexicans. The addition of more Mexican states would tip the scale of slave states and free states,because Mexico had already banned slavery through-out the country.

Why did Mexico not give up Texas? ›

Mexico also feared a domino effect—that giving up Texas would lead to the loss of their other northern territories. Many Mexicans also distrusted the other powers involved in the Texas dispute.


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