Lauren C. Moye, FISM News
The FBI is offering a reward for the safe return of four Americans who were held at gunpoint shortly after crossing into Mexico.
The American citizens crossed the southern U.S. Border on Friday. Shortly afterward, they came under duress as the four individuals were shot at, then held at gunpoint, and are now feared to be kidnapped. Now, the FBI San Antonio Division is asking for public assistance to find the missing individuals.
“On March 03, 2023, four Americans crossed into Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico driving a white minivan with North Carolina license plates. Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen fired upon the passengers in the vehicle. All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the FBI said in a statement.
The Americans crossed the border near Brownsville, Texas into Matamoros, Mexico.
On the same day, the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros issued an advisory alert for a shooting that happened in the vicinity of Calle Primera and Lauro Villar. These streets are near the Rio Grande River that divides Brownsville and Matamoros.
“The U.S. Consulate General reminds U.S. citizens that Tamaulipas is classified as Level 4: Do Not Travel in the State Department’s travel advisory for Mexico,’ the advisory said, naming the larger region Matamoros is located in.
Matamoros is well-known for violent crime as a border city with a reputation for drug cartels. In fact, in 2016 it was listed as one of the three most dangerous cities within Tamaulipas by the region’s attorney general.
The FBI has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the Americans and the arrests of the criminals who took them.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND FENTANYL SMUGGLING
While violence between different cartels makes Matamoros so dangerous, the cartels are also responsible for adding to the border crisis with both human and drug trafficking, whether they are directly responsible or facilitate it with the cooperation of other gangs.
The assault of four Americans on Mexican soil is just a small insight into the violence and destruction of well-being caused by out-of-control crime that spills onto U.S. soil.
“The number of trafficked youth that we’re seeing, the amount of deadly fentanyl that’s coming across our border. Basically, I’ve seen estimates that we have higher levels of slavery today than we have at any other time around the world, because these folks come in and then they’re obligated to the people who bring them across,” Texas Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham said on Feb. 28 in a Daily Signal podcast interview.
Buckingham added that she’s heard some cartel members live in Texas towns and commute across the border as needed.
On Feb. 28, the House Homeland Security Committee released their witness statements for their first border crisis hearing of the year.
In it, Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Arizona said that human trafficking incidents in the county are up 377% with vehicle pursuits in connection to human trafficking up by 461% from two years ago.
“Many people from around the world who seek a better life are being tricked and trapped into the human trafficking business by Cartel gangs who are taking advantage of this Administration’s inability to take action. Our nation’s weak border security policies are practically hand delivering these people to the Cartels, to be caught up in a form of modern slavery, indebted to their traffickers indefinitely,” Lamb stated.
He added they have also seen an increase in fentanyl pill seizures, up 610% from 2020.