Four U.S. citizens were attacked and kidnapped after crossing the border into northeastern Mexico on Friday, the FBI said, as it continues to search for the missing Americans.
US citizens were shot by unknown gunmen shortly after they drove into the border city of Matamoros, Mexico, on Friday, the FBI in San Antonio said in a statement. The agency did not identify the victims.
“All four Americans were put in a car and taken away from the scene by armed men,” the report said.
US citizens were driving a white van with North Carolina license plates, according to the FBI.
The FBI is asking for the public’s help in finding the Americans and identifying those responsible for the kidnapping. The agency has announced a $50,000 reward for the return of the victims and the arrest of those involved.
The FBI said it is cooperating with other federal partners and Mexican law enforcement agencies to investigate the kidnapping.
CNN has reached out to the FBI for more information about the victims, as well as the Tamaulipas government, the Tamaulipas Public Security Secretary’s Office and Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office for comment.
Matamoros, a border town of more than 500,000 people in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, just across from Brownsville, Texas, has been plagued by violence and organized crime since at least the start of Mexico’s drug war in 2006. The city is home to the Persian Gulf. The cartel, a once-powerful smuggling operation, has splintered into smaller, rival gangs, according to the Congressional Research Service.
On the same day as the alleged kidnapping, e.g. the police issued a warning parents to keep their children out of school due to two shootings in the city.
The US State Department has issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory for US citizens considering travel to Tamaulipas, citing incidents of crime and kidnappings.
“Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private cars traveling through Tamaulipas, often picking up passengers and demanding ransom,” said a State Department adviser.
Matamoros was also the site of a large tent camp for migrants – mostly Venezuelans and Haitians – hoping to cross into the US to seek asylum.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the FBI San Antonio office or submit a tip online.