A Mexican cartel has issued an apology letter for abducting Americans and handed over its own members

Leaders of the Scorpions faction of the Gulf Cartel, allegedly responsible for the recent kidnapping of four Americans in Matamoros, Mexico, condemned the actions of their members who acted independently, according to a letter shared by a Mexican law enforcement source with The Associated Press.

The letter, which expressed remorse for the violence that erupted and resulted in the deaths of two of the kidnapped Americans and a Mexican bystander, was purportedly written by the cartel’s leaders.

“We have decided to turn over those who were directly involved and responsible in the events, who at all times acted under their own decision-making and lack of discipline,” the letter said.

According to a letter reportedly written by the cartel leaders, the recent kidnapping and violence that resulted in the deaths of innocent people violated the gang’s rule of “respecting the life and well-being of the innocent.”

Such letters are sometimes used as a public relations strategy by criminal organizations to deflect negative attention from their activities.

The letter was apparently accompanied by a photo of five bound men found in a vehicle that authorities were searching for.

CNN reported that the four Americans, LaTavia Washington McGee, Eric Williams, Shaeed Woodard, and Zindell Brown, who had traveled from South Carolina for cosmetic surgery, were likely mistaken for rival drug runners. Woodard and Brown were killed when their vehicle was fired upon by gunmen while they searched for the medical clinic they had called for directions to.

The victims’ families became concerned when the clinic contacted them after McGee failed to show up for her appointment.

After authorities identified the truck used by the gunmen, they were led to a house where the victims were being held. While LaTavia Washington McGee and Eric Williams were treated for their injuries, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown lost their lives in the ambush.

The bodies of the deceased were scheduled to be repatriated to the United States. Cheryl Orange, the fifth passenger who accompanied the victims to Texas, was unable to enter Mexico due to a lack of identification. She called the police when her friends failed to return to the Brownsville hotel where she was waiting.

“[McGee] simply went for a cosmetic surgery, and that’s it,” Orange said. “That’s all, and this happened to them.