Two of four U.S. citizens kidnapped at gunpoint last week in the northern border city of Matamoros have been found dead and two others are alive, with one wounded, Mexican authorities said Tuesday.
“Of the four, two of them are dead, one person injured and the other alive,” Gov. Américo Villareal of northern Tamaulipas state said by phone during the regular daily news conference of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The attorney general of Tamaulipas later confirmed that all four missing U.S. citizens, including the two dead, had been found. He did not say where or how they had been discovered. Officials have said a Mexican woman died in the crossfire Friday.
“The work of investigation and intelligence continues for the capture of those responsible,” Irving Barrios Mojica, the state’s top law enforcement official, said on Twitter.
One suspect was later detained, Mexican officials said.
The two surviving U.S. citizens, including the injured person, were taken to Brownsville in a convoy of ambulances and SUVs. The bodies of the others remain in Mexico, according to law enforcement sources.
The four were kidnapped Friday in a case that has drawn the attention of President Biden and sparked an FBI investigation.
Officials said the four drove Friday from Brownsville, Texas, across the border into Matamoros, which sits just across the Rio Grande. At least one of the four was reportedly seeking medical treatment in Matamoros.
Once the group was in Mexico, the FBI said, “unidentified gunmen” fired upon their vehicle. All four were taken away by armed assailants, the FBI said.
In his morning news conference, López Obrador voiced hope that the incident would not sour U.S.-Mexico relations.
“We are working daily to guarantee peace, security,” the president said. “We are very sorry that this happened in our country and we send our condolences to the families of the victims.”
The four U.S. citizens arrived in Mexico on a day when an outbreak of violence had prompted the U.S. State Department to warn people not to travel to the border state of Tamaulipas.
Many U.S. citizens seek pharmaceuticals and medical procedures in Mexican border cities, where drugs and treatments are generally cheaper than in the United States. And Matamoros is a popular destination not only for U.S. citizens seeking treatment or medication, but also for tourists, shoppers and vacationers headed into the Mexican interior.
However, Mexican border cities are also home to violent crime cartels that control drug trafficking, human smuggling and other rackets.
Tamaulipas state is among the most violent and lawless regions of Mexico. The state regularly is among the top-ranking regions for homicides, kidnappings and “disappearances,” though the vast majority of victims are Mexicans.
Special correspondents Cecilia Sánchez in Mexico City and Juan José Ramírez in Matamoros contributed to this report, along with the Associated Press.