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Tipsheet

There's Been a Strange Twist in the Story of the Four Americans Who Were Kidnapped in Mexico

Dario Lopez-Mills

There's been a strange twist in the tragic story of four American citizens who were kidnapped after crossing into Mexico earlier this month by a cartel that killed two and wounded a third. 

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Apparently, cartel leaders are trying to make some show of regret about the situation that drew new attention to the activities of cartels operating along — and in many cases running — the U.S.-Mexico border. Unsurprisingly, increased scrutiny and threats of cracking down on cartels are bad for their bloody bottom lines. And now, a letter that claims to be from the Gulf cartel offers an "apology" for the kidnapping and double murder as its leadership tries to avoid any serious consequences.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press from Mexican authorities, claims to be an apology from the Scorpions faction of the Gulf cartel to "the residents of Matamoros where the Americans were kidnapped, the Mexican woman who died in the cartel shootout, and the four Americans and their families."

More than just apologizing, the letter claims that the cartel "decided to turn over those who were directly involved and responsible in the events, who at all times acted under their own decision-making and lack of discipline" and violated the cartel's "rules" including one that calls for "respecting the life and well-being of the innocent," according to AP. The letter was reportedly found along with a handful of sicarios who were supposedly the culprits in the kidnapping and double murder.

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How convenient. So it was just some rogue members who kidnapped four Americans and killed two of them without clearance from their leaders? Apparently the Gulf cartel thinks they can just play this off as an "oops" to skirt greater consequences. 

It's in the interest of the Gulf cartel to put the situation behind them so they can return to their normal leadership-sanctioned violence and continue making money — while capitalizing on the Biden administration's border crisis — meaning their alleged decision to turn a few of their members over to authorities is likely more about punishing them for drawing attention to their illicit activities than to provide any kind of actual justice. 

There's also a not-insignificant chance authorities are in on the performative mea culpa, and the sicarios who were turned over will be back on the street without further consequences. Another possibility is that the kidnapping was initially greenlit by Gulf cartel leaders who later decided it was the wrong move and decided to throw a handful of underlings under the bus to make it appear like it was unsanctioned.   

In any case, as AP's report reinforces, "cartels have been known to issue communiques to intimidate rivals and authorities, but also at times like these as public relations work to try to smooth over situations that could affect their business" after "last Friday’s violence in Matamoros was bad for cartel business."

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As Julio has reported, there are growing calls in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of Americans in Mexico for the United States to take more direct action against groups such as the Gulf cartel. The Biden administration, however, has not demonstrated any motivation to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, crack down on drug and human smuggling activity, or hold Mexico accountable for its halfhearted efforts to quash criminal enterprises running swaths of its territory. While President Biden continues to turn a blind eye to the border crisis his policies created, Mexico's president issued a hostile response threatening Republican lawmakers who have called for a crackdown, as Julio reported on Friday. 

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