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."

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

    I think 1 helicopter gunship on the American side of the lake on alert for quick dispatch fully armed with hot pursuit rights should take care of the pirates.

    October 3, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Seriously

    Maybe Tinker Bell led their way out.
    I got a question for them...
    How was your trip to Neverland?

    October 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dr britt

    AMEN Stella!!!!!!!

    October 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dean

    I think it's time to make the lake dangerous for criminals to operate.

    October 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mechatronics

    These cartels in Mexico are not strictly about drugs. They have their hands in everything. Drugs, abductions, robberies, ransom kidnapings and contract murders. They are an organized mafia.

    October 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gilbert Hernandez

    The cowards who killed the unarmed american did so out of cowardice: in a boat with their criminal counterparts. These drug gang members travel and kill in packs because they don't have the balls to do it alone.

    October 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Frankie

    I can't believe that the US State Department has not given any importance to the killing of an american citizen on the mexican side. It is incomprehensible that this government choses to ignore the problem that exists with all of the illegal inmigration from Mexico in the US, and how the mexicans see us as the enemy if we decide to carry out the laws that were in the books, What is wrong with this picture!

    October 3, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. heres athought

    Just for the sake of argument, boats are not instant transportation. It makes good strategy that multiple boats with armed men would be cruising the mexican side of the lake looking for targets of opportunity. That increases their likelyhood of being able to overwhelm victims, and of the bad guys making it back should they meet with armed prospective victims. They likely cruise in a group quite often hoping to run across random fishermen/pleasure cruisers who don't happen to see the painted border on the water's surface. This time they crossed paths with 2 jetski-type vehicles, other times they've crossed paths with sport fishermen, or pleasure boaters. While it could be possible that the woman involved might have been a party to foul play, it's also entirely possible that when the situation arose and presented imminent danger, the man could very well have been the 1st target as being the most likely to resist the bad guys, plus having his back to them as they approached, leaving the woman as a secondary target. The woman being on a single person craft and having just seen her companion killed, quite intelligently cranked on the throttle to wide open instead of waiting her turn to be the next victim. In general, boats carrying several passengers are not going to be as quick getting to chase speed as a PWC with a single rider and jet power, particularly when the rider of the PWC could end up dead, and the people in the boats aren't lkely to.

    October 3, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teo

      The only problem with your line of reasoning is according to the article, the wife said she tried to rescue her husband. Also, on AC 360, there are reports that she said her husband weighed 200 pounds and was too heavy for her to pull out of the water. So let me get this straight. Your husband is on his own jet ski. You see him get shot in the back of the head (so you must be behind him). You drive your jet ski over to him and apply the brake which makes a jet ski stop right where you want it to stop, you try to pull him out of the water, which would be impossible and would tip the jet ski over, while men in boats are shooting at you. And, you get away unscathed. Sorry, for those of us who have actually been on jet skis, these statements are unrealistic.

      Now there is no body, no jet ski and all this happened on the very dangerous Mexican side of the border? She either killed him herself or he's not dead and just waiting for her to show up with the insurance money.

      October 4, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pancho villa

    The problem is greedy and everybody has a right to defeand themselfs,but this issue has been around for decades now and is your middle class and rich class that exploit this and are making millions now lets be fair and hold debates IS A HOT ISSUE...........

    October 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Obvious questions unasked

    What was an American couple–admittedly fully aware of the danger involved–doing on high-speed jet skis, two miles outside of the United States, and two miles into what is essentially an armed Mexican drug cartel war zone?

    Perhaps one obvious explanation is being completely ignored, because it would detract from the political usefulness of the story.

    October 3, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • DSolomon

      You could say the same about Emmett Till whistling at a white woman in the South in the '50s.

      Nothing like blaming the victim.

      October 4, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ron

    I'm so tired of hearing about Mexicans. Muslims are bad enough.

    October 3, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. citizenn

    Why were these fools jet-skiing on the Mexican border? Darwin Award.

    October 4, 2010 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • DSolomon

      Nothing like blaming the victim

      October 4, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. jeff

    Reinstate the draft.....place actual troops on the border......put more money in drug education. That will reduce it, but never make it all go away all together. Its a big "crap" sandwich and we all have to take a bite.

    October 4, 2010 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. amy

    Why do people take chances like this. I think what was done by these outlaws is wrong. However having jetskis in this area is like jumping into a pit of cobras. Just not smart....

    October 4, 2010 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. BillShut

    Next time, they'll remember to strap some machine guns on their jet skis!! That'll shock the you-know-what out of the druggy pirates!!

    October 4, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8