(NEW YORK) — A powerful Mexican cartel has allegedly taken responsibility for the kidnapping of four U.S. citizens, and killing of two of them, in the Mexican border city of Matamoros.
Five men were found tied up near a pickup truck on Thursday morning. ABC News has geolocated that location as the same area where the U.S. citizens were kidnapped on Friday.
A handwritten note was found placed on the windshield of the truck, whose author or authors say they belong to the Gulf Cartel, the dominant organized crime group in this part of Mexico.
The note said some Gulf Cartel members were responsible for the kidnapping and killings and apologized for their actions.
“We have decided to deliver those involved and directly responsible,” the note said, presumably referring to the five men found tied up at the scene.
Multiple different law enforcement agencies along with members of the Mexican army responded to the scene.
Three sources confirm to ABC News that the five men were taken into custody by Tamaulipas State Police, where they remain.
Multiple sources close to the investigation said they believe the note left on the windshield to be legitimate.
Neither ABC News nor U.S. officials have been able to independently verify the authenticity of the note.
Police allegedly found two weapons inside the truck when they detained the five men — an AK-47 and an AR-15 — as well as four AK-47 magazines, three AR-15 magazines and cartridges of different calibers, according to a copy of the police report from Mexican authorities obtained by ABC News from a source close to the investigation.
Police found the men inside the truck with their hands tied with belts, along with the note, according to the police report.
A source close to the investigation believes that state police and other Mexican law enforcement want to verify the identities of those five men arrested and be sure they were in fact connected to the kidnappings before commenting publicly.
ABC News has reached out to the FBI for comment.
The four kidnapped Americans — Eric James Williams, Zindell Brown and cousins Latavia “Tay” McGee and Shaeed Woodard — drove Friday morning into Matamoros, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas just south of Brownsville, Texas. McGee had traveled from South Carolina to Mexico for a cosmetic medical procedure.
Soon after crossing the border, “unidentified gunmen fired upon the passengers in the vehicle,” and then put the four Americans in another car and fled, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said.
Mexican investigators believe the kidnappers may have wrongly believed the Americans were rival human traffickers, a source close to the investigation told ABC News.
The two survivors — McGee and Williams — were found Tuesday morning in a wooden house in the Lagunona area, outside of Matamoros, Mexican officials said. Williams was shot in both legs while McGee was largely unharmed, family members said.
One of the deceased was also found inside the house, and the second was found outside it, a source close to the investigation told ABC News.
During the three days they were held, the Americans were transferred to various places, including a medical clinic, in order to create confusion and avoid rescue efforts, according to the governor of Tamaulipas, Américo Villarreal.
A 24-year-old suspect who was in charge of looking after the victims inside the house where they were found has been arrested, Mexican officials said.
The two survivors were being treated at a hospital in Brownsville following their rescue. The bodies of two Americans killed remain at the morgue in Matamoros, local officials said Thursday.
The Attorney General’s Office of Tamaulipas also said on Thursday that a Mexican woman died in the incident.
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