Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador speaks to journalists during his morning press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City on Monday, during which he confirmed four U.S. citizens had been abducted while they were shopping for medicine. Photo by Mario Guzman/EPA-EFE
March 6 (UPI) -- The FBI on Monday announced a $50,000 reward for the return of four U.S. citizens who were kidnapped in Mexico on Friday.
The agency said the four citizens entered Mexico seeking cheaper medicine, which is not uncommon. They crossed into Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, where unidentified gunmen opened fire near them, killing a Mexican citizen. At that point, the four were abducted by the gunmen.
Oliver Rich, special agent in charge of the San Antonio division of the FBI, is seeking public assistance to identify the people responsible for the kidnapping. The reward being offered also calls for the arrest of the kidnappers.
"The information we have is that they crossed the border to buy medicines in Mexico, there was a confrontation between groups, and they were detained," Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said as reported by CNN. "The whole government is working on it."
The FBI said the four citizens were traveling in a white minivan with North Carolina plates.
"We have no greater priority than the safety of our citizens -- this is the U.S. government's most fundamental role," Ken Salazar, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said in a statement. "U.S. law enforcement officials from numerous agencies are working with Mexican authorities at all levels of government to secure the safe return of our compatriots."
At a press briefing Monday afternoon, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said U.S. officials are monitoring the situation closely.
"These sorts of attacks are unacceptable," Jean-Pierre said. "Our thoughts are with the families of these individuals, and we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance."
She said that, in addition to U.S. law enforcement working with their Mexican counterparts, the departments of State and Homeland Security also are coordinating with Mexican authorities.
"And we will continue to coordinate with Mexico and push them to bring those responsible to justice," Jean-Pierre said.
The State Department has an active travel advisory for the state of Tamaulipas, urging travelers not to visit the state because of the region's rampant gun fights and kidnappings.
"Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state and operate with impunity, particularly along the border region from Reynosa to Nuevo Laredo," the State Department's advisory reads. "In these areas, local law enforcement has limited capacity to respond to incidents of crime."
Anyone with information about the kidnapping is asked to contact the FBI San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741 or submit an anonymous tip.