Five American friends sing happily before tragic kidnapping in Mexico –

A fifth passenger who was denied entry to Mexico, where her four friends were later kidnapped by crime and the Gulf cartel, said she thought they had been arrested because they were known for “partying and using narcotics.” “.

Cheryl Orange said she had traveled to the southern border with Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee, Eric Williams, Zindell Brown, Shaeed Woodard for her friend’s cosmetic tummy tuck.

Orange’s journey was brought to a screeching halt when he was denied entry because he did not have proper identification: the four continued on to Matamoros, where they were caught in gang crossfire before being kidnapped. Only Williams and McGee survived the ordeal.

In a text exchange with Associated PressOrange said her friends were supposed to come back after dropping off McGee for his ‘tummy tuck’ and when they didn’t return, she got worried and alerted the police.

It comes as images of the group driving towards the southern border, filmed before the tragic kidnapping, surfaced after their kidnapping.

A fifth passenger, identified as Cheryl Orange, who was denied entry into Mexico where her four friends were later kidnapped for the crime and the Gulf Cartel drug syndicate, said she thought they had been arrested because they were known for “parties and drug use”. narcotics”.

A case report claims that Orange ‘seemed worried and nervous’ and ‘an odor of marijuana’ had been ’emitting from her person’

Images obtained by the NCbeat appear to show McGee, Eric Williams, Zindell Brown, Shaeed Woodard, and a fifth passenger named Cheryl Orange singing happily as they travel down the road toward the southern border.

Orange stressed to authorities that the group had been in the southern tip of Texas for the cosmetic procedure when extensive criminal records emerged for the four members who were loaded into a truck and kidnapped for four days by the Mexican drug and crime syndicate of the Gulf cartel. .

Report of a case obtained by NewsNation he claims that Orange ‘seemed worried and nervous’ and that ‘a smell of marijuana’ had been ’emitting from her person’.

The Brownsville Police Department report also stated that: “Cheryl did not appear to know the details of Latavia’s surgery, but stated that she believed the surgery was a buttock augmentation.”

The report continued: “Cheryl stated that she would not be surprised if her friends were arrested because they are known to party and use narcotics.”

The five friends had driven a rented minivan from South Carolina on Thursday to the southern tip of Texas, according to a police report based on Orange’s account. Four of them left on Friday morning around 8:00 am to go to Mexico.

On the way south, images uploaded to Facebook stories show the five friends singing and joking with each other, revealing a fifth passenger, now identified as Orange, sleeping in the back.

In one video, a person named ‘Tay’, a nickname for McGee, can be heard talking to another passenger saying ‘We’re on our way to Mexico, bitch.’

The video then cuts to the other passengers in the car, including Orange, who can be seen reclining next to the filming passenger who NCbeat identified as Williams.

“Mexico here we go,” Williams is heard saying before laughing and talking about the group stopping at a gas station.

Orange’s journey was brought to a screeching halt when he was denied entry because he did not have proper identification: the four continued on to Matamoros, where they were caught in gang crossfire before being kidnapped. Only Williams and McGee survived the ordeal.

These are the current travel advisories for Mexico from the United States government. Only two states, Yucatán and Campeche, are completely free of notices.

A second video shows the group sharing snacks and laughing, while a third video shows the fifth person in the car hiding behind Williams while filming.

It’s unclear when the video was filmed during the voyage – the group was clearly in high spirits as they made their way to the Brownsville port of entry.

What seemed to start out as your average road trip with friends quickly turned into a nightmare, when Orange was left behind on the US side of the border.

A frantic effort to rescue his four friends ensued after Orange contacted police when they were unable to return to the American side as expected.

Orange, who did not cross into Mexico with the others, said his three friends were supposed to return within 15 minutes after dropping off their escort, McGee, for cosmetic surgery in the Mexican border city of Matamoros on Friday.

Orange stayed in a motel in Brownsville, Texas, and said she grew concerned as the hours passed and didn’t hear from the others.

Orange’s statements and the report offer the most detailed account yet of what led up to the kidnapping that brought McGee and another friend to a US hospital Tuesday after Mexican authorities rescued them and found their bodies. of the two friends of him in a six-year-old wooden hut. miles and a half outside of Matamoros. The attack also left a Mexican woman dead.

Orange told police that he did not cross the border because he did not have his identification.

He said he couldn’t provide additional details because he was waiting for a call from McGee, who was to be released from a hospital in Brownsville.

The other wounded American, Eric Williams, was also being treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound to the leg. Brown and Woodard were killed in the attack.

Orange confirmed via text that the friends went on the trip to accompany McGee for cosmetic surgery.

‘She just had cosmetic surgery, and that’s it. That’s it, and this happened to them,’ Orange said at the time.

Mexican authorities have said the group was shot at and crashed their truck shortly after crossing into Matamoros on Friday, as drug cartel factions made their way through the streets.

The Americans were taken away in a van, and Mexican authorities searched frantically as the cartel moved them, including taking them to a medical clinic, “in order to create confusion and impede efforts to rescue them,” said the region’s governor, Américo Villarreal. Tuesday.

Orange told authorities in Brownsville that he had everyone’s luggage but had not been able to reach them, according to the police report.

“He tried to call their cell phones but they sound muffled,” the report says.

He said Orange received a phone number to follow up with criminal investigators on Monday if he hadn’t heard from his friends.

Mexican authorities found the group on Tuesday in a wooden shack, guarded by a man who was arrested, in the rural area of ​​Ejido Tecolote east of Matamoros on the way to the area of ​​the Gulf called “Playa Bagdad,” according to the attorney general’s office. state. . , Irving Barrios. .

Brown’s relatives revealed that he had been reluctant to travel south of the border.

“Zindell kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go there,'” Brown’s sister, Zalandria, said in a telephone interview with the AP.

Zalandria, who lives in Florence, South Carolina, said her death was “like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from.”

“To see a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged away, it’s just incredible,” he added.

The images of the moment of the kidnapping emerged on social networks in which the group of four is seen getting into the back of a truck belonging to the Gulf Cartel.

The bodies of Brown and Woodard were repatriated to the United States on Wednesday from a Forensic Medical Service morgue in Matamoros. revealed that Williams was previously arrested for ‘distributing crack near a school’, while McGee was slapped with ‘illegal conduct towards a child’, when his daughter tested positive for amphetamines.

Woodard was charged with “manufacturing and possession” of drugs and pleaded guilty, while Brown was also charged with “possession of marijuana or hashish.”

The four were found in a ruined hideout near a place known as La Lagunona in the town of El Tecolote, about six and a half miles from where they were taken.

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