Mar 8, 2023
U.S. Officials Reissue ‘Do Not Travel’ Warning to Parts of Mexico After 4 Americans Kidnapped Transcript
The U.S. State Department is renewing its warnings to avoid traveling to Mexico, just days before Spring Break. This comes after four Americans were kidnaped in Matamoros. Read the transcript here.
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Jonathan Martin (00:00):
I’m Jonathan Martin, thanks so much for joining us. Two Americans who survived a violent kidnapping in Mexico are now back in the US. Two of the victims, however, were found dead. The third was found severely injured, and the fourth was not hurt. Latavia Washington McGee drove to Matamoros, Mexico with Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown and their friend, Eric Williams. They were traveling in a van with South Carolina license plates when they were caught in a shootout and kidnapped in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Fox News is reporting tonight the group was there for medical treatment, and that one of the victims had just had some plastic surgery
Speaker 2 (00:38):
Attacks on US citizens are unacceptable, no matter where or under what circumstances they happen. We will continue to work closely with the Mexican government to ensure justice is done in this case.
Jonathan Martin (00:53):
Mexican authorities say they have one person in custody and are now searching for others. The US State Department is now renewing its warnings to avoid traveling to certain parts of Mexico, now, just days before spring break. And this is coming after the tragic events we just talked about in Matamoros. Fox 26’s Natalie Hee joining us live with more on this. So Natalie, what are you learning about it?
Natalie Hee (01:16):
Well, Jonathan, for many college kids spring break is next week. And while some students may have planned to head across the border, US officials now reissuing their warnings for people to cancel or seriously reconsider traveling to Mexico. Would you have any concerns traveling to Mexico right now?
Speaker 4 (01:35):
No. No. I would love to go to Mexico.
Speaker 5 (01:36):
Yeah, I will go. I mean, yeah, just let my mom know, but yeah, I’d definitely go.
Speaker 6 (01:40):
The travel advisory for Tamaulipas State remains at level four.
Natalie Hee (01:44):
A level four warning, the highest travel advisory issued by the US State Department is now in effect in six Mexican states, including Tamaulipas, located just south of Brownsville, Texas. The warnings were first issued last year and reissued last Friday, the same day four Americans were kidnapped in Matamoros, two of them now dead. Authorities say the group had traveled from South Carolina for a cosmetic procedure.
Speaker 7 (02:10):
Well, the level four travel advisory, which basically is equivalent to the Ukraine, just don’t go there. The issue here is that if I’m traveling to Myanmar or Nepal or the Middle East, I’m probably going to check my travel advisory. Spring breakers in Brownsville aren’t going to think twice about going to a bar in Matamoros because that’s just what we do and they’re neighbors.
Natalie Hee (02:35):
University of St. Thomas Professor Richard Sindelar formerly worked at the State Department for nearly 23 years, and spent a significant amount of time as Deputy Consul General in Monterey, Mexico. He’s urging Americans, particularly college spring breakers, to take the level four advisory seriously, especially those considering going to Matamoros.
Speaker 7 (02:56):
That particular city is particularly dangerous because there are two cartels that are in what amount to a cartel war now, and they are apparently two of the most vicious cartels in Mexico. So their first instinct is to kill you rather than deal with you, rather than kidnap you and ransom you, will just kill you.
Natalie Hee (03:17):
For those ignoring the advisory or going to cities with a level two increased caution warning, Sindelar suggests remaining vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
Speaker 7 (03:27):
Misdirect your path. If you’re going from your hotel to the beach, for instance, in Cancun and it’s three blocks away, don’t go straight to the beach, go left, and then right and then left. And if that same guy in the red shirt is still following you, you may be a target. Get inside in something safe like any hotel or building, store nearby.
Natalie Hee (03:49):
Now, the State Department says people who do choose to travel to Mexico should be extra careful if they’re going to bars or nightclubs. They’re also urging people to not wear any jewelry to attract any unwanted attention. For more details on these warnings, you can head to our web story, fox26houston.com. Natalie Hee reporting, Fox 26 News.