Bodies of Kidnap Victims Returned to US with an Apology


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MEXICO CITY —The bodies of two U.S. citizens who died after they were kidnapped in Mexico by suspected drug traffickers were repatriated Thursday, officials said.

The four abductees were taken at gunpoint after crossing the border into crime-plagued Tamaulipas state on Friday, apparently so one could have cosmetic surgery.

Two survivors, one of whom suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, were returned to the United States on Tuesday via a land border crossing, hours after they were rescued.

The two bodies were handed over to U.S. officials after forensic studies were completed, Tamaulipas prosecutor Irving Barrios said.

They were identified by U.S. media as Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, and the survivors as Latavia Washington McGee and Eric James Williams.

Mexican authorities believe the kidnappers, allegedly members of the Gulf Cartel, mistook the U.S. citizens for rivals and shot at them when they tried to escape.

On Thursday, local media published a pamphlet purportedly from the Gulf Cartel that said the group apologizes for the incident.

It said that it had decided to hand the perpetrators over to Mexican authorities because they acted without authorization from their superiors.

So far, prosecutors have only reported the capture of one man who was guarding the captives when they were found.

Tamaulipas is one of the Mexican states most affected by drug trafficking and other organized crime.

While Mexico is a popular destination for medical tourism, the U.S. government has warned against travel to Tamaulipas because of the risk of murder, kidnapping and other crimes.

The Latin American country is plagued by cartel-related bloodshed that has seen about 350,000 people killed since the government deployed the military in the war on drugs in 2006.

Mexico and the United States agreed Thursday to launch a joint campaign to warn of the risks of consuming fentanyl, the often-deadly opioid smuggled across the border by Mexican drug cartels, officials said.