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Mexican drug cartel PR department apologizes for overzealous staffers who killed two Americans last week

A letter claiming to be from the Mexican drug cartel blamed for abducting four Americans and killing two of them condemned the violence and said the gang turned over to authorities its own members who were responsible.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press through a Tamaulipas state law enforcement official, the Scorpions faction of the Gulf cartel apologized to the residents of Matamoros where the Americans were kidnapped, the Mexican woman who died in the cartel shootout, and the four Americans and their families.

“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 reads, adding that those individuals had gone against the cartel’s rules, which include “respecting the life and well-being of the innocent.”

Drug cartels have been known to issue communiques to intimidate rivals and authorities, but also at times like these as public relations work to try to smooth over situations that could affect their business. And last Friday’s violence in Matamoros was bad for cartel business.

The Americans’ killings brought National Guard troops and an Army special forces outfit running patrols that “heat up the plaza” in narco terminology, Mexican security analyst David Saucedo said.

“It is very difficult right now for them to continue working in terms of street-level drug sales and transferring drugs to the United States; they are the first ones interested in closing this chapter as soon as possible,” Saucedo said.

Thursday’s letter was not an unheard of cartel tactic.

Cartels’ community relations efforts are well-known within Mexico. In contested territory, one cartel might hang banners around a city blaming a rival for recent violence and distinguishing themselves as the gang that does not mess with civilians.

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