Three Americans who were found dead in Mexico last week, after they were kidnapped on October 13, were killed not by one of Mexico’s vicious, out-of-control drug cartels but by an elite, governmental police security force set up just two months ago to crack down on the drug gangs in northeast Mexico.
The allegation that the killings of the kidnapped Americans were carried out by members of Grupo Hercules, created in September by the mayor of crime-plagued Matamoros — a city of 430,000 directly across the Rio Grande river from Brownsville, Texas — comes from witnesses who said they saw the three Americans forced into a Grupo Hercules van by men dressed in police uniforms.
The decomposing bodies of the kidnapped Americans, Erica, Alex and Jose Angel Alvarado, ages 26, 22 and 21 respectively, as well as the body of a Mexican citizen named Jose Castaneda, were found on October 29, each with hands and feet bound and a single gunshot wound to the head.
Castaneda was the boyfriend of Erica Alvarado, the slain woman’s family said. The attorney general’s office in Tamaulipas State, where the city of Matamoros is located, said that the four were killed the same day that they were kidnapped off the street. But the statement gave no further details or evidence for that assertion.
The mother of the three murdered Americans, who were siblings, also believes her children were kidnapped and killed by the Grupo Hercules squad. Raquel Alvarado says that a Mexican soldier saw her three children inside a Grupo Hercules barracks in October, where they were beaten and tortured.
Mexican authorities have reportedly questioned nine members of Grupo Hercules in connection with the Alvarado siblings’ murders, but no one has yet been charged.
But why the three Americans, who were born and raised in Texas, were kidnapped and murdered in Matamoros remains a complete mystery. The three adult Alvarado children were in Mexico, just a few miles over the border, to visit their father, who lives and works there. None of the murder victims were known to have a criminal record, and there have been no accusation that any were involved with drugs or crime.
Leticia Salazar, the 37-year-old Matamoros mayor who announced the formation of Grupo Hercules on September 7, declined to answer questions when contacted by the U.S. cable news outlet CNN.
In a September statement announcing the formation of Grupo Hercules, Salazar said that the elite security team was created “to bring peace and security to all the families of Matamoros.” But just two months later, the group’s members are top suspects in the deaths of a Mexican citizen and three kidnapped Americans.
[Photo of Grupo Hercules members via City of Matamoros]