Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

American Media and Politicians Fixated on Matamoros Kidnapping at Critical Moment

By ''El Huaso'' for Borderland Beat

José Díaz Briseño Twitter

Last weekend, four Americans were shot at and kidnapped by armed criminals shortly after crossing into the border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, as reported by Borderland Beat. Video of the event surfaced online shortly after, showing criminals dragging the victims bodies into the back of a pickup truck and speeding off. Yesterday morning, Tamaulipas Governor Américo Villarreal Anaya reported that two of the victims were rescued, and two are dead.

This event has drawn the focus of US politicians and the media at a critical moment when current assumptions about US-Mexico security cooperation are under challenge by calls to declare Mexico's security an issue of terrorism and utilize the US Military.

So far, the details of the event are hazy. A US official told CNN that the victims were attacked based on mistaken identity. According to a family member of one of the victims, the four ventured to Mexico accompanying a friend who sought cosmetic surgery. Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated yesterday that they went to Mexico to buy medication, when there was a confrontation between groups.

In a press conference yesterday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that US President Biden and his team are "closely following the assault" and called the event "unacceptable". López Obrador responded in today's morning press conference that his administration is fighting for a safer Mexico.

Ken Salazar, the US Ambassador to Mexico, posted a statement from the US Embassy on his Twitter account, expressing condolences to the American victims and a Mexican women who was killed by a stray bullet. The statement also mentioned US concern at the Gulf Cartel's control of La Frontera Chica, a region along the border - a rare mention of a specific criminal organization, as State Department communications often speak generally about security.

The US press is also fixated on the story. Journalist José Díaz Briseño posted on Twitter that all major US morning shows; NBC Today Show, CBS Mornings, and ABC Good Morning America were focused on the Matamoros kidnapping story, a rare occurrence for the US press, which often neglects to cover Mexico.

Today the story earned front page coverage in newspapers across the US. Mexican journalist Dolia Estévez noted that much of the coverage focuses on portraying Mexico as a lawless nation.

Further, over 450,000 tweets mentioned either #Mexico, #Matamoros or #Tamaulipas, an indication of the reach of the story. 

This focus occurs at a critical moment when calls for designation of criminal groups in Mexico as terrorist organizations is increasingly common, and some US politicians, mostly Republican, are advocating for a US-led militarized response to insecurity in Mexico.

Last week, former US Attorney General Bill Barr argued for heavy handed US military response to Mexico's insecurity in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal titled: "The U.S. Must Defeat Mexico’s Drug Cartels - The narco-terrorists are more like ISIS than the American mafia". 

Barr is not alone in his calls for increased and reinvented US focus on security in Mexico.

In early February, the attorneys general of 21 states signed a letter asking President Biden to designate Mexican criminal groups as terrorist groups for their role in fueling the American drug crisis, and their capacity and willingness to use violence. 

Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican candidate for the 2024 Presidential election, stated on Twitter that the US cannot ignore the role of cartels in the fentanyl overdose crisis, and should use the Military to "defend America’s home turf''.

Before this, many legislators and politicians from the Republican party have submitted legislation and advocated to designate Mexican criminal groups as terrorist groups. This is not a new trend, but its frequency is increasing. In fact, over the last 20 years, the quantity of legislation submitted to Congress with keywords "Mexico'' and ''cartel" increased 580%, from five bills submitted in the 107th Congress (2001-2002), to 34 in the 117th Congress (2021-2022).*

In this same time period, the quantity of legislation submitted to Congress with keywords "Mexico'' and ''cartel" and "terror*" increased 350%, from eight bills submitted in the 107th Congress (2001-2002), to 36 in the 117th Congress (2021-2022).**

The vast majority of these bills are submitted by Republican politicians. 

While this conversation is gaining political momentum, the topic is hotly debated, and faces fierce opposition from the government of Mexico and from some security experts, who argue the comparison of criminal groups to terrorist organizations is a confusion. Further, it is important to note that this is a highly politicized conversation, with determinations of narco terrorism and military involvement in Mexico largely dependent on political affiliation.

Regardless of the debate, the violent kidnapping of US citizens, amplified by social media, occurs at a time when focus from US media and politicians on insecurity in Mexico is supercharged. 


* Percentage change formula: ((34 - 5) / 5) * 100 = 580 %

** ((36 - 8) / 8) * 100 = 350 %

Figures for number of bills submitted by Congressional session by searching for legislation with keywords "Mexico'' and ''cartel" from

José Díaz Briseño Tweet 1, José Díaz Briseño Tweet 2, José Díaz Briseño Tweet 3

Borderland Beat Archives 3/6

Parker Asmann Tweet

Letter to the President and Secretary of State - 21 Attorneys generals

ITV News

La Cronica de Hoy

CNN World Edition

Wall Street Journal

El Universal


  1. Holy crap, I was shaking my head in agreement while reading, and then realize the Republicans are pushing the involvement. We'll, good for them, about time, and I am a Democrat. Lol

  2. Hope they will wipe some of these cartels from the face of earth. Tired of the US playing a passive role. I want troops sent and these lawless banditos killed or arrested asap. Will never go to mexico

  3. Holy Mackerel!!
    The S*#@, is going to hit the fan.
    Due to the rampant crime, fentanyl, Mexico is now under the microscope.
    I was laughing and laughing 🤣, that tears came out of my eyes, when Lopez Obrador said, he is fighting for a safer Mexico.

  4. That's how propaganda works doesn't it?
    Get the heart, minds and feelings of the masses involved. Then you've successfully brainwashed the T.V goers.

    Totally of topic, but just to put things in perspective- how U.S exploit the ignorance of its citizens- when the Russian war started, U.S/BIDEN promised the nordstream 2 line wouldn't move forward if Russias SMO continued, the pipe got destroyed eventually, creating a huge environmental disaster, the mainstream media was quite never questioned it, even after one of the greatest investigative journalists of our time -Seymour Hersh- exposed the U.S led operation. This example, one of many- only solidifies what many of us already know.

    The U.S manipulates the masses magnificently. So after repeating the same talking points over and over and over, offcourse people are going to buy them. Putin bad, China bad, cartel invasion? Bla bla bla..

    1. Sure the US does. But guess what: so does every other nation on earth. By ignoring that, you just choose Russia propaganda instead of US propaganda. You arent more informed. Choose your misinfo!

    2. Very excellent point. CCP is happy with your analysis

      +100 Social Credit to your account.

    3. Simplest and most ignorant deflection ever- Incorrect @2:21 I choose reality over western manipulation, I don't need "Russian or Chinese" propaganda, history speaks louder than words, and the U.S has a long track record of being deceitful.

      @2:23 ok? American zombie? Lol

    4. Platforms like these cater to ultra ignorant American "patriots" like you both @221 and @223. Go watch your "make you feel good" news were U..S..A is always the righteous hero the world needs and stay pig ignorant.

  5. They didnt send military to get the border patrol agent that was killed. They didnt send militaryfor kiki camarena. And they sure aint gonna send military for these foos. In a couple weeks itll be old news sadly. US National Security has way bigger issues to be dealing with like the douth china sea rn.

    1. I think this time is different. Look at the % of legislation focused on Mexico and terror now. The wind is changing.

    2. 220: Agree completely. If it is starting up political awareness like it has, the momentum must not stop. We can hope.

    3. The republicans are trying to make an issue for the 2024 elections. Even if a republican is elected president they still won't send in the troops.

  6. How ridiculous is that notion; set the stage for American troops to enter México- cause 4 Americans buying drugs in México got victimized?? Here's what America can do, help the drug addicts instead of enabling them. Stop the American weapons flowing across the border. Stop sleeping with the "cartels" you want to combat. No matter what the outcome is, one things certain. America will never stop pushing its military complex agenda. Look what the CIA did to Nicaragua?? Look how they created rebel terrorists groups in the middle east and abroad??? It has nothing to do with justice for the victims, it's all about $$, hegemony and control.

    1. 3:27 I have a feeling this is SIR, all over the place, not sticking to one item.🤔

  7. Masterfully written. Such an excellent story, Huaso. Very well done.

  8. "According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons (NamUS) database, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 600,000 people go missing annually. Approximately 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year" imagine if the CNN,FOX and MSNBC networks repeatedly reported the missing in the states? It would also cause panic. It's political strategy offcourse.

  9. Call it what you , but get ready cause it’s coming.

  10. USA doesn't care about what happens to a few blacks, they care about troops on Mexican soil so they can take over the huge lithium plant in Sonora. If the issue was about what happens in Mexico why didn't they go in with the camarena case or any other past Americans that got killed there. Also if the issue is about the fentanyl, why don't they go after china since that's where the chemicals to make it come from. And the last point why don't they go after the guns that killed the 2 blacks.. oh yeah they came from here the US.

  11. Excellent reporting, writing and analysis - including all the sources is very professional journalism. much appreciate


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