October 2nd, 2010
12:50 PM ET

Sheriff: Body of American shot by Mexico pirates still missing

Days after an American man was fatally shot by pirates on a lake that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, his body still has not been found, a sheriff told CNN on Saturday.

Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. of Zapata County, Texas, said U.S. authorities have not made much progress because the incident happened on the Mexican side of Lake Falcon.

“The body was not recovered” by U.S. authorities and is presumably still in the lake, Gonzalez said.

“We’ve been in touch with Mexico authorities but they say they don’t know anything about a body,” Gonzalez said.

Texas Rangers and Texas Parks and Wildlife reconnaissance teams have joined local and state authorities in searching for the body, according to CNN affiliate KSAT in San Antonio, Texas.

The man believed to be fatally shot is David Hartley, 30, according to KSAT. His wife, Tiffany, tried to rescue him but had to flee under fire, KSAT reported.

Tiffany Hartley told law enforcement authorities that the couple were riding personal watercraft in the lake Thursday afternoon when four boats of gunmen approached them and started shooting, according to CNN affiliate KGNS in Laredo, Texas.

"This  couple ventured into these waters deep into Mexico," Gonzalez said. "This gentleman was hit in the back of the head with a bullet.

"The woman was able to escape them," Gonzalez said, by "accelerating as fast as she could." He said the lake is safe on the American side, “just don’t cross into Mexico."

The part of the lake where the incident occurred is technically in the municipality of Guerrero, a city in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, Gonzalez said. The state has made headlines recently as a hotbed for drug cartel violence.

Gonzalez said that while nothing about the suspects is known, he strongly believes they are pirates linked to drug cartels across the border.

“We have no suspects. None. But the descriptions [of the suspects] would be drug cartel members or the gofers of the drug cartels,” he said.

Gonzalez said this is not the first time there has been trouble on the lake.

“We had some problems in April and May,” he said. “It’s a very, very popular lake for bass-fishing, and what was happening was some people were being robbed.” But this is the first time the incidents have been fatal, he said.

Zapatas County, Texas, is about 50 miles from the Mexican border.

Gonzalez, who was born and raised in Texas, said, "People in this country who don’t live around the border don’t know what’s really going on here."

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Filed under: Crime • Drug violence • Mexico • Pirates • Texas
soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Jim

    The picture was taken in Key West, not Mexico/Texas border. ???

    October 4, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jon

    I see a new episode of "Snapped" coming. Had enough time to find out that the husband was shot in the back of the head? Or know where the wound was because...? They gave up on kidnapping her for ransom because of the imaginary border line in the lake?

    October 4, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pirate Monkey

    the wife did it and it'll be on the next episode of Dateline

    stop blaming us pirates, arrrrrrrrr!

    October 4, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Confused

    I thought the same thing about the photo. The photo was taken in Key West (I've been there). I'm surprised that the CNN reporter didn't realize this (as it is clearly marked on the monument) before they went forward with their story.

    October 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Soldier on

    Missing husband...no body...unknown Pirates....Mexican border.....fake story. Why does the media fall for these things?

    October 5, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      I just watched the Today Show's story and interview with the wife. She totally did it!!!

      October 5, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. John V.

    CNN is full of crap! I'd like to know where in the hell ZAPATAS COUNTY is located! Maybe they meant Zapata County? However they report that ZAPATAS County is 50 miles from the Mexican border. The Zapata County that I know of and the place where this is all going ON THE BORDER with MEXICO.

    Just as it is with CNN's constant disregard for the FACTS in their political news coverage...CNN cannot be trusted to report the TRUTH!

    October 5, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. gwlamas

    These "victims" lived somewhere in Mexico prior to moving back to the United States. Not only were they obviously aware of the situation along the border, they lived in the Rio Grande Valley, which has covered the Drug Turf War in Mexico since it started. Playing with fire is stupid, but blatantly ignoring the violence and warnings by the government is beyond stupid. I'd hate to say they were asking for it, but it is what it is. Another thing, these "pirates" don't play around. Either she was in cahoots with them, or she did it herself. How convenient that not one person along the lake heard gun fire.

    October 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pepper

    I think someone mentioned or eluded to this earlier, Why arent the motives of the couple examined? They couldve been there to pick up drugs and something went wrong. Common sense would not have a couple jet ski in known, dangerous territory. Maybe thats why she cancelled the press conference initially; and today she said she couldnt see them because a gun barrel was pointing at her. Whatever, she is definitely hiding the truth!

    October 6, 2010 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sergio ybanez

    First of all any loss of life is tragic,I feel for her loss.I just can't get passed the interview I saw with her this morning,WHen she spoke of the shooting she said and pouted to her forehead,if so,when they were. Fleeing they the obvious sot would be from the rear and an exit wound in the front would be large,also it just doesn't jive with me that the so called pirates would let her go if she was10 feet away from them,why if I had just killed your husband would I want to leave you as a witness to the alleged crime? Also she said she tried to retrieve her husbands body and put it on her jet ski,with a large head wound their would be loads of blood splatter everywhere including herself,nothing of this sort was seen or reported,I would continue to be skeptical of the Pirate story till these few things are answered.

    October 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cheyene

    I know if my husband was just gunned down, I would not be able to sit through an interview of any sort, and not shed a tear! I would be DEVASTATED! When she says "I turned my jetski around, to the right" she is giving too many specific details for this to be true. This is fishy! Either he is faking his own death or she killed him. There is no way this happend!

    October 8, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. AlMurray

    Typical Americans always complaining you`d think you guys are use to getting shot by now after its what your country is about "shooting people" and having guns. Get over it there will be more shooting with Americans killing Americans thats for sure.
    From you friendly Canadian neighbour

    December 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. IMHO

    No need to say a thing. You obviously recognized yourself that your post was eminently bashworthy.

    October 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gene

    Thisguy...You are an ignorant fool, now since you are an ignorant fool I should assume all Americans are ignorant fools? All mexicans are not lawless, although some surely are most are hard working people who have values. But.... you are an ignorant fool and that will never change.
    If you want to place blame on the things happening with the drug war research who is the largest consumer of cocaine and heroin in the world. And research the world´s largest arms dealer. Since you are a fool it will surprize you that they are the same country! Drugs and guns make the war and the answer is to stop both.

    October 2, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stella

    Get a grip Gene. First, you seem to enjoy bashing the US but the fact is Mexico and South America supply drugs to the international community, not just the US. If we eliminated ourselves from the market they'd lose a big customer but still be flourishing in the rest of the world. For someone who expresses so much shame about their own country you don't seem to know much about anywhere else. You show what a bigot you are by believing this ridiculous story about 4 Mexican gun boats attacking two people on jet skis, which make no sense, so you aren't defending Mexico. You're only playing out your own self-loathing. Please do it elsewhere.

    October 3, 2010 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. DSolomon

    Perhaps we wouldn't be such a big arms dealer if there wasn't such demand, right?

    October 4, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
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