According to reports from the Mexican border city of Matamoros, a splinter group of the Gulf Cartel known as the Scorpions Group has apologized for kidnapping and murdering two U.S. citizens last week and turned over the men it claims were responsible.
On the front pages of the majority of Mexico's newspapers was a photograph of what appears to be five men with their hands bound and their T-shirts pulled up over their heads. It appears to have been taken as the police arrived on the scene.
A letter allegedly left with the men by the Scorpions Group apologized to the people of Matamoros, the US victims and their families, and a Mexican woman killed last week when the gang opened fire on a white minivan carrying Americans.
The Associated Press has obtained a copy of the letter from a law enforcement official in the state of Tamaulipas, according to their report.
"We have decided to turn over those who were directly involved and accountable for the events," the letter states, adding that the five "acted on their own volition and without discipline." In addition, the letter accuses the men of violating cartel rules regarding "protecting the lives of the innocent."
Meanwhile, police have cordoned off the clinic in Matamoros where the cartel members allegedly took the injured Americans for treatment. According to reports, the gang took the four Americans there, but the two with the most severe injuries, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, died shortly after.
According to sources, Mexican officials handed over the bodies of the two deceased men to American officials in Matamoros on Thursday afternoon, and their remains were returned to the United States.
In Mexico, some skepticism has been expressed regarding the initial account of the events. One member of the group, Latavia McGee, reportedly traveled to Matamoros for a cosmetic medical procedure at a clinic in the city. It was reported that three of her friends accompanied her to the appointment.
However, three of the four Americans had convictions for mostly minor drug-related offenses, while one was charged with manufacturing and distributing illegal narcotics.
The Mexican authorities are investigating the possibility that the four Americans were kidnapped because they were mistaken for rival cartel members encroaching on their territory, according to a document obtained by Reuters.
As the political climate surrounding the incident in Matamoros continues to heat up, questions about the Americans' backstory have emerged. Several Republican politicians in the United States, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, have called for the use of military force against Mexico's drug cartels.
In particular, he proposes designating Mexican drug cartels as "Foreign Terrorist Organisations" in order to, in his words, "unleash the fury and might of the United States against (them)".
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico responded angrily, stating that his country was neither a protectorate nor a colony of the United States. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard echoed his sentiments, calling Senator Graham's proposal for military intervention "unacceptable."
Liz Sherwood-Randall, the US Homeland Security Advisor, is in Mexico for a meeting with President Lopez Obrador to discuss the worsening fentanyl and synthetic opioid crisis in the United States.