A former FBI assistant director warned that nowhere in Mexico is safe from cartels, after two of the four U.S. citizens who were kidnapped last week were found dead. The warning comes almost immediately after the U.S. State Dept. renewed their travel advisory warnings, admonishing all Americans to avoid travel throughout most of the country.
Four American citizens were kidnapped last week after they crossed into Mexico by a group of armed men that opened fire on their vehicle near the town of Matamoros.
Two of the kidnapped Americans, Latavia McGee, and Eric Williams, were found alive in a stash house near Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. However, two others, Shaheed Woodward and Zindell Brown, were found shot to death.
While the kidnapping is still being investigated, U.S. and Mexican authorities believe that members of the Gulf Cartel mistook the four Americans for members of a rival human trafficking gang.
Tamaulipas, where the abduction happened, is among six Mexican states that are currently on the U.S. State Department’s do not travel advisory list.
“Organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common,” the advisory for Tamaulipas says.
“Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments,” it continues.
The other states that the U.S. government does not recommend people traveling to include Sinaloa, Zacatecas, Michoacan, Colima, and Guerrero. Only two out of Mexico’s 32 states are not subjected to any kind of travel warning or advisory by the U.S. government: Yucatan, near Cancun, and Campeche.
However, Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes said that even places that look like “safe” resorts in Mexico might not be as safe as people think.
“While you’re on the highway, you’re vulnerable. Now, in this case, it sounds like the cartels had set up a checkpoint, basically like a tollgate, that you had to go through them,” Fuentes told Newsnation.
“And it sounds like the van tried to run past that. And that’s when the cartels opened fire,” he added.
Former national security advisor, Nayyera Haw, echoed Fuentes’ warning by saying that “the majority of Mexico is actually in the control of cartels.”
“In fact, the government of Mexico for decades has been complicit in ceding control. It is wonderful to travel overseas. It is not the same as traveling in the United States, no matter what the bargain, or what the deal is that you can get,” he said.
“You have to understand what life is like for people in the country,” he added.
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