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FBI, CBP, Mexican military rescue American woman kidnapped by drug cartel

FBI agents. (Melanie Rodgers Cox/US Air Force)
February 15, 2022

A U.S. citizen kidnapped in Mexico was rescued last week by FBI agents who teamed up with U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican military officials to save the American woman.  

According to U.S. Border Patrol Laredo Sector, an adult American woman was being held against her will in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, which is home to the Los Zetas Cartel, commonly referred to CDN. On Feb. 8, the FBI began coordinating with the Border Patrol’s intelligence division, called the Foreign Operations Branch (FOB), to save the kidnapped American.

Using information provided by the FOB, the Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA), which manages Mexico’s Army and Air Force, quickly located the kidnapped woman and rescued her without injury.

Mexican troops also identified 14 other people who were being held against their will at the same location. No identities have been released.

“This case highlights the teamwork and binational collaboration between U.S. federal law enforcement agencies working with the Government of Mexico to enforce the law and rescue individuals being held captive,” the CBP said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Kidnappings and disappearances in the Nuevo Laredo area are not uncommon, according to a November report by AZ Central.

In fact, a 136-mile highway that connects Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, is known as “the highway of death,” or “carretera de la muerte,” because dozens of people have disappeared in the area without a trace.  

Mexico’s National Search Commission reported last year that over 70 people have gone missing while traveling on “the highway of death” since October 2020, including Americans.

Loved ones of those who have gone missing, however, say the number is more than twice that.

“Where do we go? Where do we ask? At some point I said ‘if I were here (in Nuevo León), I think the police, with all the data I’ve provided them with, would have located him by now, dead or alive,'” resident Juana María told La Voz/The Arizona Republic after her husband went missing along the dangerous stretch of highway. “But over there it is difficult because it is already Tamaulipas — another state.”

Cartel-related violence continues to wreak havoc on populations throughout Mexico. Last month, a suspect left an SUV filled with 10 bodies near a Christmas tree outside the office of the governor of the Mexican state of Zacatecas. The incident comes amid an ongoing battle between the various drug cartels operating in the region.

Zacatecas is the sight of an ongoing cartel war between the Sinaloa, Jalisco New Generation cartels, Gulf and North-east cartels, as well as remnants of the Zetas who call themselves “Talibans.” According to the Guardian, the Mexican state recorded 1,050 murders in 2021, which is 260 more than the previous year.