Diplomatic tensions between Mexico and US rise in aftermath of kidnapping 

By March 20, 2023

Mexico City, Mexico — After four United States citizens were kidnapped by a criminal gang in northern Mexico, two of which were killed, some U.S. authorities have called for military involvement in Mexican territory, drawing the ire of Mexico’s president. 

In early March, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that four U.S. citizens from North Carolina traveling to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, allegedly to perform cosmetic surgery, were violently taken by members of a criminal organization. 

During Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s morning press conference, the Governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villareal Anaya, reported via a telephone call that state and federal authorities had found the four U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, two of them were reported dead during the press conference. 

Shaheed Woodard and Zindell Brown were killed by their abductors, while Latavia McGee and Eric Williams were repatriated to the U.S., with the latter transferred to a Texas hospital where he was treated for gunshot wounds. 

Reportedly, the four were taken by “Grupo Escorpion,” a faction of the Gulf Cartel — a drug cartel active in the region — merely two and a half hours after they arrived in Matamoros. 

On March 9, police in Tamaulipas found five people tied down with a written message allegedly written by Grupo Escorpion apologizing for kidnapping the U.S. tourists and explaining that the five bounded men were responsible for the abduction and that they acted on their own. 

“The Gulf Cartel, Grupo Escorpiones, condemns the events of Friday, March 3, where unfortunately, an innocent working mother died, and four American citizens were kidnapped, two of whom died. Therefore we have decided to hand over those involved and directly responsible for the events, who at all times acted under their own determination and indiscipline,” read the message. 

U.S. military in Mexico. 

Following the harrowing events that led to the murder of the two U.S. citizens, Republican congressman Lindsay Graham said he “would put Mexico on notice,” warning he would push a bill enabling the U.S. military to take action directly against drug cartels in Mexico. 

Graham, who called Mexico a “narco-state,” said the bill would also label drug cartels as terrorist organizations. 

“I would tell the Mexican government if you don’t clean up your act, we’re going to clean it up for you,” said Graham in an interview with Fox News on March 7. 

President Lopez Obrador quickly dismissed Graham’s taunts, which he called an opportunistic move to boost the Republican campaign for the next elections in 2024. 

“This is not the way, the way of threats, subjugation, invasion, what do these interventionists, arrogant people think they are doing! Mexico is respected,” said López Obrador. 

Furthermore, the Mexican leader warned that if republican members of the U.S. congress continued to push for such legal initiatives, he would call for a campaign against the Republican party (GOP), requesting Mexicans and other Latin Americans living and working in the U.S. not to vote for the GOP. 

“So, if they continue to offend Mexico, we will continue to denounce them and we will ask our countrymen not to vote for them because he who does not love his country does not love his mother, ” he said.