The mother of a woman brutally kidnapped by the "Gulf Cartel" on a trip to CanadaMexicofor a cheap tummy tuck said her daughter saw her boyfriend and cousin murdered.
Latavia 'Tay' McGee, Eric Williams, Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard were kidnapped when they were caught in the crossfire of two gangs in the Mexican border town of Matamoros on Friday.
McGee and Williams survived the horrific ordeal. Brown, who had previously resisted the journey, and Woodard were killed - all four were found in a dismal hideout six miles from where they were taken.
As the two are due to be repatriated to the United States on Wednesday, McGee's mother, Barbara Burgess, spoke with her.CNNand said she was horrified to see her daughter kidnapped and wanted justice.
The mother of a woman who was brutally kidnapped while traveling to Mexico for a cheap tummy tuck says her daughter saw her friend and cousin murdered
A soldier stands guard outside the Forensic Medical Services mortuary awaiting the transfer of the bodies of two of the four Americans kidnapped by gunmen to the U.S. border
The Forensic Medical Services mortuary building in Matamoros, Mexico, from which Brown and Woodard are being transported back to the United States
As Four US Citizens Were 'Accidentally' Kidnapped by the 'Gulf Cartel', Two Returned to America in Body Bags
Wednesday, March 1st
Latavia 'Tay' McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Eric Williams and Zindell Brown leave Lake City, South Carolina, in a white minivan for McGee's tummy tuck
Friday, March 3
9h18:The group arrives in Matamoros, a town where family and friends say McGee has been before.
11h45:The group is caught in the gang crossfire and kidnapped by people believed to be connected to the Gulf Cartel.
Saturday, March 4 - Monday, March 6
The group was then taken to different locations to "create confusion and avoid a rescue", according to Mexican officials.
Mexican authorities saw surface video footage of the incident, but were unaware they were US citizens at the time.
The search for the group began with the help of American colleagues after identifying American license plates.
Tuesday, March 7th
7:30 am.:The group was found hiding near a place called La Lagunona, in the town of El Tecolote, about ten kilometers from where they were kidnapped.
Authorities determined that although two Americans in the group, Brown and Woodard, died, McGee and Williams survived the ordeal.
The two surviving Americans were taken to the border near Brownsville, Texas for medical treatment.
The two Americans who died were taken to a Forensic Medical Service mortuary in Matamoros.
Wednesday, March 8
Victim's family talks about harrowing kidnapping
Brown and Woodard's bodies are being prepared for repatriation to the United States.
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"She was fine, I spoke to her last night," Burgess explained after speaking to her daughter for the first time since the kidnapping.
“They passed and a van came and hit them. This van started shooting at the car, shooting at the van or whatever.
"[Latvia] said the others started running and were shot at the same time - Shaheed and Zindell - they were all shot at the same time and she watched them die."
Burgess said it was heartbreaking to see her daughter being "thrown in the truck like garbage" in a video leaving the ordeal.
“When I saw them throw my daughter in that truck – they liked it – they threw her like garbage in that truck and I didn't like it and wanted to go to her,” she said.
When she was rescued - McGee was seen barefoot and covered in dirt - the trauma of the incident was visible on her face.
She survived the ordeal with Williams shot in the left leg, according to Mexican authorities, the others did not survive.
Burgess said that she was like a mother to Woodard and "would do anything for him".
"His mum died when he was about 15 and I've had him ever since," she told the station.
"Latavia was also in the house so she sees him as a brother, but he's her cousin and my son. I miss him, I love him and there's nothing I wouldn't do for him."
McGee's daughter said few words to the network and was equally shocked by the kidnapping.
"I was thinking about why they were kidnapped," she said.
The four were traveling to Mexico for McGee to have the cosmetic medical procedure done when they were caught in the crossfire between two gangs on March 3.
Mexican officials said they believed the incident may have been a case of "mistaken identity" and linked to the notorious "golf cartel" known in the region.
Burges accountAB 15on Tuesday night, she had spoken to her daughter, who was in shock but unharmed.
'She lives. I was talking to her. The hospital nurse called and let me talk to her,” Burgess said.
'She cried. I asked her how she was. She is cool.
"She cried because her brother was killed and she saw him die. She saw two of them die. They died before her eyes."
Brown's family members revealed that he was reluctant to travel south of the border.
Lativa 'Tay' McGee was found unharmed after she, her cousin and two friends were kidnapped. The mother of five was seen barefoot after surviving the tragic incident alongside boyfriend Eric Williams, who was shot in the left leg.
McGee (pictured) was seen in the back of an ambulance before being transported to Texas following the brutal kidnapping that authorities believe was a case of "mistaken identity".
McGee was seen wiping her eyes with a tissue as Williams - who was shot in the left leg but also survived the ordeal - was treated in the back of the emergency vehicle.
Eric Williams' wife Michelle said she cried "tears of joy" when she found out he was alive
"Zindell kept saying, 'We shouldn't go under,'" Zalandria, Brown's sister, said in a telephone interview with the AP.
Zalandria, who lives in Florence, SC, said his death was "like a bad dream you want to wake up from."
"To see a family member thrown into the back of a truck and dragged away is just incredible," he added.
At least one person was arrested in connection with the incident, and the surviving Americans were taken to the border near Brownsville, Texas, in a convoy of Mexican ambulances and SUVs on Tuesday.
They were then handed over to US Consulate officials.
Williams, who survived with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds to his legs, did not tell his wife Michelle that he had traveled out of the country.
"I didn't know he was going to Mexico," she said.WBTW. "All I knew was that he was going somewhere to help two friends."
She said she hadn't heard from him since Friday, explaining how he texted her that morning "and I responded right away.
"He didn't respond," Michelle revealed. "He hasn't responded to our son either, so I'm assuming that's where they were mugged."
José 'N', 24, was arrested in connection with the incident. According to Mexican authorities, he was responsible for monitoring the victims.
McGee was unharmed, but Williams was shot in the left leg - the injury was not life-threatening.
Shaeed Woodard (left) and Zindell Brown (right) did not survive the abduction
The group was found in a hidden house (pictured) in the rural town of El Tecolote, six and a half miles from Matamoros
She added: "I highly doubt they thought this could have happened to them."
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villarreal Anaya, who broke the news of the two surviving Americans at a separate press conference in the morning, confirmed the identity of the person arrested.
José 'N', 24 years old, was arrested. He was in charge of monitoring the victims," he said, noting that the victims "were found in a house near a place called La Lagunona, in the town of El Tecolote in Matamoros.
“During the three days following the crime, the four people were taken to various locations, including a clinic, to create confusion and avoid rescue work,” he said.
Authorities in Mexico have not confirmed whether the person arrested in connection with the kidnapping is linked to the "Gulf Cartel" criminal organization known to operate in the region.
Mexican officials said the group reached Matamoros at 9:18 am and was caught in the gruesome ambush at 11:45 am after arriving in the town.
Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios said information related to the kidnapping surfaced online and that videos and photos shared by people helped with the rescue.
At the time, authorities were unaware that the victims were Americans, he added.
After authorities identified US plates on the minivan the group was traveling in, Mexican authorities contacted their American counterparts.
Mexican authorities said they were able to scan public surveillance cameras in the area to "determine the number of cartel vehicles involved in the attack".
Forensic scientists were spotted at the site where authorities found the bodies of two of the four Americans abducted by gunmen.
The military guarded the place where the authorities found the bodies.
These are the current US government travel advisories for Mexico. Only two states - Yucatan and Campeche - are completely counseling-free
He said they searched for medical facilities in Matamoros in hopes of finding the kidnapping victims sooner, but to no avail.
Defense Secretary Louis Sandoval was asked about kidnappings on both sides of the border, particularly in the US, where victims are taken to Mexico for ransom.
“Tamaulipas was a state where violence and the presence of groups were important,” he said.
“It should be noted that during the current government, a security strategy has been established and very specific goals for Tamaulipas, for the border, have been set to protect the border.
“The implemented security strategy has given very good results, I don't have statistics here now, but the number of premeditated homicides in Tamaulipas has decreased thanks to this strategy.
"The army's involvement, the air force's strategy was important."
Governor Américo Villarreal said much attention was paid to the incident and medical attention to surviving victims, while the Mexican president promised that those responsible would be "punished".
"Those responsible will be found, they will be punished," said President López Obrador.
The Tamaulipas Attorney General's Office said the four US citizens were found around 7:30 am on Tuesday, four days after they went missing.
In front of the rescue Mexican newspaperMillenniumcited that officers were investigating whether the group was kidnapped by members of the "Gulf Cartel," a notoriously violent gang led by a feared leader named La Kena.
FBI units escort two Brownsville Fire Department ambulances transporting the two surviving US citizens abducted March 3 across the International Veterans Bridge in Los Tomates
Images of the moment they were captured are circulating on the internet, showing the group behind a vehicle.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr said US authorities should treat gangs the same as ISIS when negotiating the release of Americans.
"They are terrorists," he said during an appearance on Fox News last night.
"The Mexican government is being held hostage by tens of thousands of paramilitary members of terrorist organizations that effectively control Mexico."
And while spring break packs up their bikinis and sunglasses to hit the beach in Mexico,The US government urged citizens to avoid cartel hot spotsin the midst of a wave of violence.
"At this stage, it's pretty close to a failed narco-state," he said.
La Kena or Ciclon 19, leader of the Gulf Cartel
"You can use force and oceans of money to corrupt the government. The government is unwilling and unable to deal with cartels."
Republican Representatives Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Michael Waltz of Florida recently introduced legislation that would give Biden "authority to use the U.S. military against these cartels in Mexico."
In response, Ricardo Monreal tweeted the following yesterday: "My response to the representative of Texas @DanCrenshawTX is direct and clear: I reject any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Mexico and also the pretense of applying the laws of the United States in our country. if "sovereignty". Even if Crenshaw doesn't understand."
Le Kena is the leader of the Gulf Cartel and is also known as Cyclone 19. His real name is Alberto Garcia Vilano.
Mexican authorities have been hunting him for months and are offering a reward of 2.5 million pesos for any information that could lead to his arrest.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during a news conference on Monday that the Biden administration "closely followed the attack and kidnapping of four American citizens."
"These types of attacks are unacceptable," she said, adding that US officials are in contact with Mexican authorities, as well as the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security.
Tamaulipas Governor Américo Villarreal Anaya confirmed the condition of four kidnapped Americans in a phone call during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's press conference on Tuesday. Two dead, two alive - one injured
Mexican authorities are here investigating the white SUV that McGee and his friends drove into the country.
The FBI and Mexican police are investigating, with the agency requesting information from the public leading to arrests.
The State Department has a'Do not travel'Alert from the state of Tamaulipas for 'crime and kidnapping'.
Organized crime activities, including shootings, armed robberies and kidnappings, were common along the border and in Ciudad Victoria.
"Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses and private cars traveling through Tamaulipas, often picking up passengers and demanding ransom payments," the alert said.