The families of four Americans who were kidnapped in Mexico have spoken out after the rescue of the two survivors left two passengers dead and one passenger dead.
Barbara Burgess, the mother of survivor Latavia “Tai” McGee, said her daughter was alive and in a Texas hospital after the abduction, telling News 4 San Antonio that her daughter experienced a living nightmare.
“I asked her how she was doing,” Burgess told News 4 about the phone conversation. “She’s fine. She was crying because her brother was killed, and she saw him die. She saw the two of them die. They died in front of her.”
Members of a Mexican cartel kidnapped four Americans who traveled across the border from Brownsville, Texas, to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, last week allegedly seeking tummy tuck surgery. According to Ken Salazar, the US ambassador to Mexico, two Americans and an innocent Mexican bystander died during the incident.
The four Americans have been identified as McGee, Shaid Woodard, Eric Williams and Zindel Brown of South Carolina. The FBI has said it cannot identify the survivors, but McGee and Williams have been identified by their families as survivors.
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Tamaulipas Gov. Americo Villarreal said officers found the four in a wooden shack guarded by a man, whom they arrested. According to WBTW, the cartel had moved the Americans to different locations, at one point being taken to a medical clinic “to create confusion and avoid attempts to rescue them”.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news conference on Tuesday that the US had returned the two survivors “with the assistance of our officials in Mexico, with the assistance of our Mexican partners”.
The department is working on repatriating the deceased, but Villarreal said Mexico will hand them over to US authorities after forensic work at the Matamoros morgue.
Burgess said she appreciates the prayers and support from the community “because that’s what I needed.”
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“Pray, it will turn things around,” Burgess said. “It works, and prayer, you believe in it and it will work. It did it for me, because I was praying for my daughter, and I knew she was coming home. I knew it I didn’t know when or what time, but I knew she was coming.”
Brown’s wife, Michelle, said she did not know he was traveling to Mexico, only that “he was going somewhere to help out two friends.”
Michelle told WBTW, “I haven’t heard from him since Friday.” “Friday morning he texted me and I messaged him right away. He didn’t respond so I’m assuming that’s when he was ambushed.”
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She described feeling a “sense of relief” after learning that her husband was alive, saying that she had not slept since Sunday.
He added, “My heart is breaking for the two families who cannot say the same thing.”
Tamaulipas is one of six Mexican states with a travel warning from the US State Department against Americans visiting the region due to the increased risk of targeted violence.
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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that “attacks of this type are unacceptable” and that the Biden administration would “stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”
The State Department did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment at the time of publication.
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