For residents of Laredo, Texas, it was a terrifying yet familiar tale: Three more Texans vanished in the dangerous Mexican countryside across the Rio Grande, abducted amid reports of escalating violence between warring drug cartels. The weekend kidnapping of a Laredo businessman and two other Texans was the latest of dozens of abductions in recent years that have more people here steering clear of the border. ”It’s gotten a lot worse within the last year, to the point where you just don’t go,” said Angie Cuellar, a longtime friend of kidnapped businessman Librado Pina Jr., 49.
Authorities said 30 to 40 armed men stormed Pina’s remote deer-hunting ranch about 40 miles northwest of Nuevo Laredo. The men abducted Pina, his son, two friends and a cook. They two friends were freed Wednesday. An FBI spokesman said 60 U.S. citizens have been kidnapped in the area since 2004, and 21 of those cases remain unresolved.