Mexican government says the kidnapping of four American citizens was a “misunderstanding”

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PHOTO: Tamaulipas attorney general's office personnel walk at the scene where authorities found the bodies of two of four Americans kidnapped by gunmen, in Matamoros, Mexico, March 7, 2023. (Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Two of the four Americans kidnapped in Mexico have been found dead, while the other two were rescued alive, officials announced on Tuesday, March 7th.

The survivors — Eric James Williams and Latavia “Tay” McGee — have returned to the U.S., their families said.

PHOTO: Split photo shows Eric James Williams and Latavia 'Tay' McGee (Left Photo: Courtesy Michele Williams; Right: Tay McGee)
PHOTO: Split photo shows Eric James Williams and Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee (Left Photo: Courtesy Michele Williams; Right: Tay McGee)

The four Americans — Williams, McGee, Zindell Brown and McGee’s cousin Shaeed Woodard — arrived Friday morning in Matamoros, Mexico, which is in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas just south of Brownsville, Texas.

“Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen fired upon the passengers in the vehicle,” the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said. The Americans had been traveling in a white minivan.

PHOTO: A member of the Mexican security forces stands next to a white minivan with North Carolina plates and several bullet holes, at the crime scene where gunmen kidnapped four U.S. citizens who crossed into Mexico from Texas, March 3, 2023. (AP)
PHOTO: A member of the Mexican security forces stands next to a white minivan with North Carolina plates and several bullet holes, at the crime scene where gunmen kidnapped four U.S. citizens who crossed into Mexico from Texas, March 3, 2023. (AP)

“The gunmen herded the four U.S. citizens into another vehicle and fled,” the embassy said.

The Americans were not directly targeted, Attorney General of Tamaulipas, Irving Barrios, said at a news conference.

It “seems to be that it was a misunderstanding,” Barrios said.

Mexican investigators believe the kidnappers may have wrongly believed the Americans were rival human traffickers, a source close to the investigation told ABC News.

PHOTO: Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamoros, Mexico, March 6, 2023. (AP)
PHOTO: Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamoros, Mexico, March 6, 2023. (AP)
PHOTO: A general view of a storage shed behind a police cordon, at the scene where authorities found the bodies of two of four Americans kidnapped by gunmen, in Matamoros, Mexico, March 7, 2023. (Daniel Becerril/Reuters)
PHOTO: A general view of a storage shed behind a police cordon, at the scene where authorities found the bodies of two of four Americans kidnapped by gunmen, in Matamoros, Mexico, March 7, 2023. (Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

The two survivors were found Tuesday morning in a wooden house in the Lagunona area, outside of Matamoros, Mexican officials said at a news conference. One of the deceased was also found inside the house, and the second was found outside it, a source close to the investigation told ABC News.

Williams had a gunshot wound to his leg, said the governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villarreal.

PHOTO: Eric James Williams is seen in an undated file photo. (Courtesy Michele Williams)
PHOTO: Eric James Williams is seen in an undated file photo. (Courtesy Michele Williams)
PHOTO: Images of the place where 4 American citizens were found are shown in screens during a press conference to give details after two American citizens were found dead in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on March 07, 2023 in Mexico City. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Images of the place where 4 American citizens were found are shown in screens during a press conference to give details after two American citizens were found dead in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on March 07, 2023 in Mexico City. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

During the three days they were held, the Americans were transferred to various places, including a clinic, in order to create confusion and avoid rescue efforts, Villarreal said.

One person has been arrested. The 24-year-old suspect was in charge of looking after the victims inside the house where they were found, Mexican officials said.

One of the survivors, McGee, is a mother of five who traveled from South Carolina to Mexico for a cosmetic medical procedure.

PHOTO: Latavia 'Tay' McGee is seen here in an undated file photo. (Tay McGee)
PHOTO: Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee is seen here in an undated file photo. (Tay McGee)

Her mother, Barbara Burgess, told ABC News she “had to hold my heart” when the FBI came to her home on Tuesday with the news her daughter was alive.

Source: El Financiero

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