A letter claiming to be from the Mexican drug cartel blamed for abducting four Americans and killing two of them condemned the violence and said the gang turned over to authorities its own members who were responsible. In the letter, the Scorpions faction of the Gulf cartel apologized 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, reports the Associated Press. “We have 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,” the letter reads, adding that those individuals had violated the cartel’s rules, which include “respecting the life and well-being of the innocent.” Drug cartels have been known to issue communiques to intimidate rivals and authorities, but also to do public relations work to try to smooth over situations that could affect their business. The Americans’ killings brought National Guard troops and an Army special forces outfit running patrols that bring attention, or “heat up the plaza” in narco terminology, Mexican security analyst David Saucedo said. “It is very difficult right now for them to continue working in terms of street-level drug sales and transferring drugs to the United States; they are the first ones interested in closing this chapter as soon as possible,” Saucedo said.
The cousin of one victim said his family feels “great” knowing that a survivor of the kidnapping. Eric Williams, who was shot in the left leg, is alive but does not accept any apologies from the cartel blamed for kidnapping the Americans. “It ain’t gonna change nothing about the suffering that we went through,” Jerry Wallace said. Wallace, 62, called for the American and Mexican governments to address cartel violence. Thursday’s letter was not an unheard-of cartel tactic. Cartels’ community relations efforts are well-known within Mexico. In contested territory, one cartel might hang banners around a city blaming a rival for recent violence and distinguishing themselves as a gang that does not mess with civilians. In other situations, the message is blunter: Bodies are left inside a vehicle with a note or hung from a highway overpass on a heavily transited road. The motivation is terror. More subtly, cartels use their power to plant stories in the local press or keep stories from appearing. Their members are active on social media. The cartel's underlying interest is ensuring the continuation of facilitating their business whether that be smuggling drugs and migrants or extortion.