US consulate officials in the Mexican border town of Matamoros were ordered to “shelter in place” Monday as gun violence linked to drug cartels rages around them.
The town is where four Americans were kidnapped in March — and two of them eventually killed — after apparently being mistaken for cartel rivals.
Monday’s lockdown was triggered when four people were reportedly killed the same day in a shootout with the Mexican military in the border city, which sits across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas.
“U.S. Consulate General Matamoros employees are currently under a shelter-in-place order until 1:30 p.m. in Matamoros due to gun violence occurring in the city,” read a tweet from the consulate Monday.
“We recommend you shelter in place and stay tuned to local news for updates in your area,” it added.
The gunmen engaged a Mexican marine patrol, and authorities later recovered guns and tactical equipment, according to a state official.
The Gulf Cartel, a criminal syndicate and drug trafficking group, is based in the Mexican border town.
The Jalisco Cartel New Generation is also active in Matamoros.
One of the Americans killed in March, Shaeed Woodard, had traveled to Mexico so his cousin, Latavia McGee, could get a tummy tuck. The other slain US citizen, Zindell Brown, was among the same group.
The four kidnap victims had apparently gotten lost in the area on the way to McGee’s medical procedure.
The shocking kidnapping and killings sparked an outcry in Washington, with some lawmakers, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), calling for the cartels to be named foreign domestic terrorist organizations.
The Gulf Cartel acknowledged that some of its members took part in the crime and apologized in a letter to Mexican police. The group also turned in five members who they say were responsible for the March 3 slayings.