Report of Kidnapping of a US Citizen Traveling the Coast Road outside of Matamoros

Jan. 1, 2014:  Sra. Osmon logged the following narrative into Yucalandia’s Comments:
“Submitted on 2013/12/29 at 6:28 pm

For anyone considering driving the coast road from Merida to Texas–don’t! Unless you want to run the risk of being abducted at gunpoint, and robbed of your belongings. We just returned from a trip to the US, mainly to attend a music conference in Chicago, but also to drive our Texas-plated Grand Cherokee out of the country and import it back in through Laredo. We became permanent residents last February and had done this for my Jeep in July through Grupo Cuevas in Laredo. At that time, we had gone up the coast to Ciudad Victoria then on through Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo; and we had returned the same way. This trip, we were leaving through Matamoros. Forty minutes north of Ciudad Victoria, we were accosted by five men in a pick-up wearing camouflage and flak jackets with “Policia” caps and brandishing automatic weapons and handguns. They drove us off a side road approximately 35 minutes (very fast) to a nondescript rancho where they held us for 4 hours while they went through and robbed us of most valuables, continually demanding more money. Since they didn’t hide their faces, and, as we observed at one point, they took very large plastic bags out of the trunk of one of their vehicles, we were convinced they would kill us (or else why take us so far from anything?). After a couple of hours, the jefes arrived and one addressed us in English saying they wouldn’t hurt us but they just needed more money. We explained (again) that they had everything already and we weren’t rich people. After conferring among themselves for another hour or so, he told us “what the boys had done was a mistake.” And that we were in “a black Grand Cherokee” and “they had been looking for guns and drugs.” He said they were going to give us our stuff back and let us go. I asked him if they were going to kill us and he said, “No, no, we just needed some money.” He also asked if there was any kind of device in our Jeep, our phones, or the computer that the Americans could use to track them. They drove us back the way we came, and about 10 minutes before we got to the highway, the driver got out of our Jeep, walked back to the pick-up, got in and they drove back toward the rancho. My husband jumped out of the back seat and into the driver’s seat and we raced to the highway, turned north and drove as fast as we could to the border. The FBI agent we reported to in Houston told us that, obviously, they weren’t cartel or we wouldn’t be here today. They were just thugs. Small consolation that wouldn’t have helped knowing as it was happening. Did we get our stuff back? One American cel phone, one video camera (no cables), and one credit card (and the Jeep, of course). We’re now a statistic but not one of the worst statistics. We’ve been driving that route for 18 years but we sold the Jeep after we got to Houston and will never drive again.”

* * * *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

Read-on MacDuff . . .

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23 Responses to Report of Kidnapping of a US Citizen Traveling the Coast Road outside of Matamoros

  1. Al says:

    Time for those with ‘carry’ permits to advise the MX gov of the signed accords which cannot DENY one citizen’s right to carry in the States vs the MX limitations on importing weapons….for personal protection..
    These banditos were sophisticated enough to understand ‘tracking capabilities’ so they aren’t
    Use your camera equipped phones to quietly take their pictures AFTER they let you go
    Then publish them on media such as this, to reveal to all who these criminals are.
    I know this is a ‘controversial ‘ statement, but this ‘experience’ should be trumpeted to the world media, maybe only then will DF pay attention !!!

  2. I think it was Churchill who spoke of the exhilaration of being shot at, to no effect. Perhaps the same applies to nearly being snuffed. But such experiences surely have variable interpretations.

    May LeRoy and wife have a tame and peaceful 2014. But we should expect the saga to inform his musical compositions. Perhaps he will title his next something piece akin to this blog: Surviving Matamoros, or some such.

  3. Jacobo says:

    Steve,

    I hope you do not mind that I moved my previously posted comment from the “facture electronica” topic as it was buried at the bottom of a long list of comments and I doubt many people would see it. I think it should be known that the not only was the house robbed during the night when the renter was present but the robber stuck her over the head with a piece of rebar during the course of the robbery.

    http://progresohoy.com/noticias/agentes-ssp-capturan-delincuente-que-robo-golpeo-una-canadiense-casa-progreso-14631/

  4. eat shit says:

    next time carry a gun and shoot them, 90 % of all crimes in Mexico are never solved…

    • yucalandia says:

      ES,
      You do realize that Canadians and Americans go to prison for having a gun or even a single bullet in Mexico(?),

      or as a Salem, Illinois resident, do you actually have no useful knowledge of Mexico – and are just venting ?

      Like many Far Right commentators of the past, you don’t know what you are talking about, but love tell people what to do.

      Did you also read that the author was released because he did not have any guns ?

      A quick review of US news reports consistently shows how well broad gun ownership has worked out with the 27 US school shootings in just the one year following Newtown. We grew up with guns in all our homes, unsecured => easy access, for decades, so, I know all the arguments for gun ownership. Something has changed in both Mexican and US society – where we never even considered taking a gun to solve a problem at school. What worked 50 years ago is clearly not working today.

      ES,
      Next time, make an effort to offer something useful that is more than an over-tired, simplistic, inappropriate, incorrect knee-jerk reaction,
      steve

      • Don Cuevas says:

        I like this reply.

        Saludos,
        Don Cuevas

      • Bill C says:

        I read you comment and you are to a degree correct. Libs also think they know it all and what to do, passing idiotic laws that “feel good” but misguided. Your gun argument is sad, but incorrect as to the possession of firearms. One US city requires carrying firearms, (google it) and no murders since the law was passed. Also the stats show we are safer with than without. Please Google that before pontificating.

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Bill,
        It is refreshing to hear from yet another person on the far right. Several consistent characteristics of the people (and irrational gun nuts) on the far right are:
        ~ their inability to read and understand what they have read;
        ~ their inability express themselves in factual ways; and
        ~ their inability to form rational views on what they read.

        There is nothing in the post above about gun control, nor about gun arguments, nor about gun policies in either Mexico or Venice, Florida (from where you are supposedly posting).

        Nice try.
        Please read the article, and come back with some reply that is rational and makes sense.
        Happy Trails,
        steve

      • Tortuga says:

        Why did you reply with such a false blanket statement? In the last decade there have been some changes in the gun laws of México.

        While true that Mexico’s gun laws are quite restrictive, and extremely harsh if you run afoul of them, it is not true to say that “Canadians and Americans go to prison for having a gun or even a single bullet in Mexico.”

        Temporary gun import licenses for sporting purposes may be issued to tourists, discussed below. Mexican law provides penalties of at least five to as many as 30 years in prison for tourists who attempt to bring a firearm, or even a single round of ammunition, into Mexico without prior permission. In the past, the law was enforced harshly, even in cases where the violation was accidental. In December 1998 the Mexican Congress enacted legislation relaxing the law for first-time, unintentional violations involving only a single gun. Now, first-timers will be fined $1,000 dollars, but not imprisoned. The exemption does not apply for prohibited guns — any handgun above .380 in caliber, as well as a wide variety of rifles

        Ownership law

        The Mexican Constitution says:

        Article 10 – The inhabitants of the United Mexican States have the right to possess arms in their residences for their security and legitimate defense with the exception of those prohibited by federal law, and those reserved for the exclusive use of the military. Federal law will determine the cases, conditions, requisites, and places in which the bearing of arms by inhabitants will be authorized.

        “The inhabitants of the United Mexican States” means Mexican citizens and, as defined in other laws, foreign citizens who hold a valid immigration status beyond FMM.

        Mexican federal law regarding firearms and explosives (Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos) is here. Note in particular Article 27:

        Article 27. The right to carry arms will only be authorized for foreigners when, in addition to satisfying the requirements indicated in the previous article, they accredit their status of “Inmigrado” except in the case of temporary license permits for tourists with sports-related intentions. Visitors/tourists (Visitante) do not have gun rights without a license. This license is only issued for “sporting purposes.”

        The privilege of carrying a firearm outside of one’s home is limited to what is authorized by Mexican federal law. Mexican citizens and a Residente Permanente can apply for a carry permit. Convincing evidence must be presented showing why a carry permit is needed. Such a permit is very hard to get. There are work-arounds by membership in a hunting or gun club as discussed below.

        All privately-owned firearms must be registered with the Mexican army.

        Owning a gun for personal protection

        If you decide to get a gun for protection in your home, you better be prepared to take a human life and be able to live with the consequences. Among those are facing retaliation by the dead man’s family. This is no small threat. If you kill a man, or especially a boy, you can expect big trouble from the family. You also can also expect a long and expensive legal battle to prove that your action was justified.

        Types of guns allowed

        Article 11 of Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos lists prohibited “military firearms” in México.

        They include:

        full-auto and semi-auto handguns larger than 380
        revolver .357 Magnum or larger
        rifles larger than .30 caliber
        shotguns larger than 12ga or with a barrel shorter than 25″.
        Allowed hand gun calibers are .380 auto, .38 and .22.
        Allowed long guns: rifles no larger the 30 caliber; shotguns 12, 20 and 410 with barrels longer than 25”

        Buying from the government

        There is only one legal gun store in the country; it’s at an army base in Mexico City. There you can legally buy a gun and get a 24 to 72 hour transport permit back to your home. You can buy two boxes of ammo with the gun. You will need a letter from the local police department attesting that you have no criminal record. You will also need your immigration document (or voter ID card if you are a citizen) and passport with copies, your CURP and proof of address. When you arrive at the army base you will not be allowed to enter with any electronic device – cell phone, computer, camera, etc.

        Buying from a private person

        You can buy from a private citizen, but you must register the gun at the nearest army post.

        Registering a gun

        You must fill out an application which you can get at any army base. In addition to the completed application, you will need your immigration document (or voter ID card if you are a citizen) and passport with copies, your CURP and proof of address. When you have all of this, you may then transport the weapon to the Army base for registration. The registration application is your permit to transport the gun to the base. The gun must be in a box or wrapped so that it is not visible. The approved application will serve as your carry permit on the way home. Thereafter, you must not take the gun out of the house without a special carry permit.

        Carry permits

        The right to keep arms in your home is not the right to transport them outside your home; this is a crime. If you want to target practice or engage in competitive shooting or hunting, you will need to be a member of a gun or hunting club that can arrange the proper permissions. Even then there are restrictions on days and places you can transport.

      • yucalandia says:

        Interesting.

        This “Tortuga’s” (aka “slow one”) advice is theoretical only, and is missing key significant real-world details: Readers should note that trying to bring guns or even a single bullet into Mexico without getting the appropriate government permits in advance can get you put into jail for months (with little chance of appeal – see http://www.npr.org/2014/05/14/312411245/wrong-turn-guns-in-his-truck-lands-veteran-in-mexican-jail and http://www.mexicotrucker.com/investigation-and-video-evidence-suggest-imprisoned-marine-did-not-enter-mexico-in-error/ that document Americans currently in Mexican jails for bringing in their guns….

        Next, “Tortuga” quotes:
        Article 27. The right to carry arms will only be authorized for foreigners when, in addition to satisfying the requirements indicated in the previous article, they accredit their status of “Inmigrado” except in the case of temporary license permits for tourists with sports-related intentions.

        Since the status of “Inmigrado” has not existed since Nov. 9, 2012, then one could say that Foreigners lost their right to own firearms in Mexico since late 2012.

        Since I don’t know fire-arms laws, or the nuts-and-bolts of how they REALLY work, I have to say that your quotes may have other significant problems in the real world (outside of government legalese).

        Sharp readers who follow the past 4 years of Yucalandia articles, might note that “Inmigrado” was completely replaced by “Residente Permanente”, but Residente Permanent is NOT the same as Inmigrado. I believe there is a section in the Transitorios of the Ley de Migracion that transfers the Inmigrado rights to Residente Permanentes (but remember Inmigrado has different qualifications than Residente Permanente => they are NOT equal, regardless of what Mexican internet “lawyers” might post).

        Thanks for the updates.
        steve

    • yucalandia says:

      ES,
      For factual perspective, the FBI’s UCR reports that roughly 81% of US reported crimes go unsolved.
      steve

  5. Always travel with a German Shepherd and a Pit Bull…

  6. Dave in Ont says:

    I believe the best bet might be to drive a “non-descript” vehicle, one that does not attract attention.

    • yucalandia says:

      True, very true.

      Large SUVs can and do attract unwanted attention. This means boat owners would have their SUV/boat-hauler, plus a car for most of their other travels?
      steve

  7. Cay Osmon says:

    It certainly appears as though it would have made a difference in this instance. If, after reading about this incident, someone is still thinking of driving it, I believe that a tightly-grouped convoy of vehicles would dissuade an attack. Remember, though, this was just one of many groups of “common” criminals; another gang might be larger and more ill-mannered. And, of course, they weren’t cartel.

  8. Patricia says:

    I will be driving a Black Jeep Liberty 4WD, with 150 pound Mastif in the back. Hope that helps..lol..at least with Aduana.

  9. susan schembri says:

    Just wondering what time of day that this occurred ?

  10. David says:

    From the description of the location, this would appear to be in the same vicinity of the R.V.-jacking several years back and is an on again off again bad area to travel through. Highway 101 is not the safest route to travel and I would have thought after 18vyears most people would know this.
    the post did not say how old the Jeep was , but if you are driving an almost new black Cherokee 4×4 SUV, this and big fancy pickups are prime targets for bandidos. In Mexico it pays to drive older nondescript vehicles.

  11. Susan Santo Schembri says:

    We have driven from Brownsville to Progreso twice ,and back last year .Now we are planning our drive back ,we are Canadian.We take the coastal road bc its shortest……do you have any better suggestion and /or do you think its more dangerous than other routes ? feeling a bit nervous bc of the incident on Jan.1st 2014 .
    Thanks ,Susan

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Susan,
      The coast road really is not faster than the central Mexico route – because of all the small towns and topes on the coast road – and, the coast road does not run due South – it curves and bends way west (because the gulf of mexico stretches west). People who drive both find the central route is actually faster and safer – especially due to better road conditions and tollways on the central route.

      One fellow who travels these areas regularly and lives in Nuevo Laredo (for years) says that the coast road through Tamaulipas has had far more safety problems for years, when compared to Nuevo Laredo – Queretaro – Puebla – etc. There is violence in Nuevo Laredo, but it does not involve tourists.

      Check out a Yucatan Living article for details comparing the 2 routes: http://www.yucatanliving.com/destinations/driving-through-mexico-to-yucatan.htm

      If you want a first hand report from Nuevo Laredo, contact Altahabana on Mexconnect (by PM) – a very reliable member on that national web-forum for expats.
      Happy Trails,
      steve
      steve

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