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. Stella

    I think the woman's story is fishy. Why would four gunboats go after 2 people on jet skis? Kidnappers would choose their target more carefully to be sure they could get money. Four gunboats wouldn't be random (maybe it would be more believable if they ran into a small boat who attacked them on the spur of the moment) and these people are lousy targets. I think the woman knocked off her husband and made the story up.

    October 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Lankheet

      I think you have been watching too many TV shows. The emotion of the family I saw on the Today show could not be faked.

      October 9, 2010 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. yacker01

    Maybe it time to bring the unmanned Predators back from Afghanistan and use them on the Mexican border.

    October 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    "...don't cross into Mexico."

    I will definitely heed this advice.

    October 2, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Very sorry for their loss but do they own a television or radio? This area has been problematic for a while and it's only going to get worse.

    October 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JC

    You know, my family came from Mexico, but we've been Americans now for about 200 years. As an American, I'm tired of hearing about how insecure that border actually is. Enough is enough, dammit. Let's get some damned pursuit boats on the lake, and to hell with what the Mexicans think. For that matter, why doesn't the Mexican Federal Police already have enforcement on the lake; it's a known hotspot. Because they can't handle it, that's why. Frankly, we should have rolled the troops a long time ago. The Mexicans aren't lawless; they do have laws, and some folks even follow them. But when the price for following the laws near the border is death, how many would that happen to be? Let me explain why there is so much corruption in Mexico: it is because THE MAJORITY OF MEXICANS TOLERATE IT. If the majority of Mexicans made stamping out the violence and corruption a priority, IT WOULD HAPPEN. The same stupid stuff has been going on since before the days of Pershing.

    October 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chuck

    How much more proof do we need to militarize the border?

    October 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nursechris

    I used to go to Mexico but it's been @ 10 years...I may be 2 hours from the border but I do not set foot in Mexico anymore; they now require a passport...yeah, I'm going to run out & get a passport stat to go to Mexico, right! Canada maybe, Mexico, no. I will not even venture as far south as Chula Vista.

    October 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. VHinBA

    I can't help wondering if this could be a scam to fake a death and claim insurance money. I mean, what dumbs**t would be stupid enough to go "deep" on the Mexican side when all that has been happening and warnins given...or were they even part of the problem and supposed to smuggle drugs back but crossed the cartel somehow. It just seems too fishy to me and if you play with fire, you're gonna get burned. Just some thoughts....

    October 2, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick Guerra

    Obama Does Not Care...Just ask the Mayor of Laredo.

    October 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jo

    I've never heard of pirates on a lake!

    October 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ray gibbs

    A warning.

    October 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. anonymous

    hopefully law enforcement will check the wife's story. makes no sense. she will be making the news program rounds and attempt to cash in the life insurance policy pretty quickly. it seems to me the ubiquituous hated minority of the day is being blamed to deflect the fact that this guy was probably shot by his wife or her boyfriend shortly after they got to the destination if not before! this will unfold as a future episode of forensic files for sure.

    October 2, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • capexcitemnt

      i think to collect on a life insurance policy you need a body

      October 5, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. thirsty

    the problem with alcohol is two hands one mouth

    October 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mechatronics

    Build a wall right though the center of this lake.

    October 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tomcat

    Hey Rick why ask Loredos Mayor? Dont you remeber when obama snubbed Gov. Perry on the tarmac in Austin? All Rick was trying to do was invite obama to visit the boarder and see first hand what is going on!

    October 3, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
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