U.S. and Mexican law enforcement confirm that two of four U.S. citizens abducted in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, were killed by a Gulf Cartel cell. Breitbart Texas has confirmed through local authorities the identity of the crime boss responsible for the case. The other two Americans were rescued during a stash house raid Tuesday.
Two survivors were turned over to U.S. authorities in Brownsville, Texas.
Known in the criminal underworld as “La Kena or Ciclon 19,” Jose Alberto Garcia Vilano is the current Gulf Cartel operational leader in Matamoros. Mexican federal law enforcement sources revealed that La Kena has gunmen running security throughout the city and they would be the ones that shot at the four U.S. citizens. Ultimately, the order to take them would have to be given by La Kena or someone in his inner circle with his approval, the law enforcement source said. Breitbart Texas previously reported on La Kena having been demoted from boss in 2021, however, he has since recovered. It remains unclear how the pressure over the shooting and kidnapping of U.S. citizens will affect his criminal career.
On Monday afternoon, the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office announced they were carrying out a large-scale operation with U.S. authorities to find the North Carolina residents. By Monday evening, authorities were raiding stash houses.
#México Esta noche autoridades de la @FGJ_Tam y grupos de inteligencia del @FBISanJuan @USNavy realizan operativos en zonas y polígonos delincuenciales, así como en presuntas casas de seguridad en #Matamoros #Tamaulipas pic.twitter.com/u5PnFs1yr1
— Gildo Garza (@GildoGarzaMx) March 7, 2023
The case began on Friday afternoon when Latavia “Tay” McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and Eric James Williams crossed from Brownsville, Texas, into Matamoros for medical tourism. During a news conference, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said they were looking for medicines, however, other sources suggest some were seeking cosmetic procedures.
After crossing into Matamoros, the group was chased, shot, and kidnapped. The group’s white minivan bore North Carolina plates. While being chased, the minivan crashed into another vehicle, and that is when the gunmen opened fire. The gunmen struck an innocent female bystander who was getting off a city bus. That woman died at the scene. It remains unclear if the gunmen directly targeted the four U.S. citizens or if this is a case of mistaken identity.
It also remains unclear why Mexican authorities did not respond to the scene until after the cartel gunmen had left with the victims.
Most news outlets in Mexico only reported on the death of the innocent bystander until after the U.S. Embassy released a statement confirming the kidnapping.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
This article has been updated to reflect breaking news developments.