(NewsNation) — The fatal kidnapping of four Americans in Matamoros, which resulted in the deaths of two, highlights the dangers of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Nelson Gurrola lives in Mexico, but studies in the states and has to cross from Matamoros, Mexico, to Brownsville, Texas, every day.
He has family on both sides of the border — and actually lives near the location where the four Americans were ambushed, fired upon and kidnapped last Friday.
He feels nervous about going back.
“It’s actually scary to think that the place where I live at is not safe anymore,” Gurrola said.
Monica Guajardo lives on the U.S. side in Brownsville and says she feels very safe despite how close she is in South Texas to the scene of the kidnapping.
“I walk more (safely) here and feel more confident than in Houston,” Guajardo said.
More people were murdered in Mexico in 2021 and the first half of 2022 than in all other countries in the world combined.
Javier Villalobos, the mayor of nearby McAllen, Texas, tells NewsNation a few hundred yards makes all the difference between being safe and not.
“I ask people to understand the difference between northern Mexico and south Texas,” Villalobos said. “It’s just a river. But the difference in safety is incredible.”
The U.S. State Department has issued “Level 4-Do Not Travel” warnings for six Mexican states, including Tamaulipas in the northeast, where the attack occurred.
Much of the risk stems from the cartel activity in the region, which is why officials say it’s best not to cross in the area
“If you don’t have to go, don’t go,” Brownsville police said. “That is basically the message we put out to everybody.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Mexican government is looking into a possible drug motive behind the attack. None of the victims, however, have been accused of any wrongdoing, and their family members insist they were there for a medical procedure.
Two of the victims, Eric Williams and Shaeed Woodard, both have multiple drug charges on their records, including possession, manufacturing and distribution.
Some of those charges are more recent, others more than a decade old.
Regardless of the reason behind the attacks, calls for cartels to be labeled as terrorist organizations are growing louder.
Sen Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told NewsNation’s Leland Vittert that Mexico is a narco-terrorist state that provides a safe haven for violent cartels.
“The blood of America fuels the drug cartels,” Graham said. “I wanna blow ‘em up.”
Other GOP lawmakers are chiming in too, including U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, who wrote an op-ed stating, “we need to target these narco-terrorists on all fronts – financially, with increased criminal penalties and even militarily.”
Those sentiments in particular have drawn the fury of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
“This man dares to say that they are going to use the armed forces of the United States to enter our territory, as in an invasion,” López Obrador said. “We could go to the U.N.