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Video screenshot of the March 4 kidnapping

‘Scorpion’ Cartel Dumped 5 Men After Deadly Kidnaps Brought Heat From the Cops

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SOF ANALYSIS, reported by “HEARST,” “Itzli,” and “Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

Angered by law enforcement “heat” brought on by the dramatic kidnapping and murder last week of Americans, leaders of the Gulf Cartel’s Scorpion faction left five men bound at the wrist Wednesday on a street in Matamoros, Mexico. The five men are alleged to have been involved in the March 4 abductions. The Scorpions also left tactical vests and firearms, along with a handwritten apology, and claimed they did not give the order for last week’s attack on the kidnapped Americans.

The apology cited a cartel code that includes respect for the innocent, and unit discipline. The kidnaps were the work of rogue actors, the note implied. The gesture overall is aimed at restoring status quo to the territory, according to analysis by Borderland Beat. Anything that brings “heat” to an area where a cartel group operates is bad for business, as far as the cartel is concerned. 

The Americans who survived the ordeal said they went to Mexico for a “tummy tuck” cosmetic surgery procedure. The kidnapped Americans are Latavia “Tay” McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and Eric James Williams. Two of the Americans – McGhee and Williams – were rescued from a cartel stash house, while their two companions were killed. Mexican national Arely Servando, 33, was killed by a stray bullet.

READ MORE about cartel activity in Mexico

In the aftermath of the dramatic events, locals realized that something was afoot in the overnight leading into Wednesday.

During the pre-dawn hours of March 9, 2023, rumors began spreading online that the Gulf Cartel – Matamoros faction had left a group of their own hitmen, tied up, for police. The hitmen, the rumors alleged, were the members responsible for the recent attack that left three dead.

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A tweet posted hours earlier, warning that Primera Street and Lauro Villar Avenue were being closed off by law enforcement, hinted that the rumors might be true because that was the location of the fateful kidnapping. 

Later, pictures were posted online by Twitter accounts such as Noticia Morelos and Gildo Garza which seemingly confirm the rumors. 

In the images five men can be seen, bound at the wrist, lying facedown on the ground with their shirts flipped over their heads – a non-threatening pose used by law enforcement after someone has been searched for a weapon. 

Later photos appear to show the men with some of the bindings removed, sitting up. This was presumably done by officers at the scene as they began to speak with them and document the scene. 

A black Silverado pickup truck is photographed in the background of many of the images. It was presumably handed over as part of the offering. Initial versions of events alleged that hitmen were riding in a white pickup truck during the March 3 incident, but later video shown by the Attorney General’s Office depicts an additional black pickup truck, driven by cartel members, which was also involved.

The black pickup that was left alongside the men is thought to be the same one driven by hitmen on March 3.

Tactical vests, firearms, and corresponding ammo was left on a sidewalk nearby. The items may have been used in the initial attack. 

Why do this?

For those wondering why a cartel group would potentially give up their own men like this – it’s because the kidnapping “calento la plaza”, or heated up the region, meaning that kidnapping brought increased law enforcement attention to the area.

The last thing an organized crime group wants is an increase in media attention, particularly American media attention, that’s focused on the criminal activity of their territory. 

Handing over these men is an attempt by the Gulf Cartel to appease the American cries for justice, believing that once the perpetrators are arrested, the focus will shift to prosecuting the men for the kidnapping and ease off the larger criminal scene in Matamoros. 

A narco message sign was left alongside the men with an explanation from the Gulf Cartel. The message read as follows, as translated by Sol Prendido:

The Gulf Cartel Grupo Escorpiones strongly condemns the events of Friday, March 3. In which unfortunately an innocent working mother died. And 4 American citizens were kidnapped, of which 2 died. For this reason we have decided to hand over those involved and directly responsible for the events who at all times acted under their own determination and indiscipline and against the rules in which the CDG has always operated. 

We respect the life, tranquility and integrity of the innocent. The CDG apologizes to the society of Matamoros, the relatives of Mrs. Arely, the affected American individuals, and families. In addition the CDG asks society to remain calm because we are committed to ensure that these errors caused by indiscipline aren’t repeated. The guilty parties will pay, regardless of who they are.  

CDG Grupo Escorpiones

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