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A woman who traveled with four friends from South Carolina to the U.S.-Mexico border raised the alarm when three of them failed to return from Mexico.

Cheryl Orange told the Associated Press in text messages that she traveled with the group from South Carolina to Texas.

Orange said she stayed behind at a motel in Brownsville because she didn’t have an ID to cross into Mexico.

She said three of her friends — Eric Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were supposed to return to the U.S. side within 15 minutes after dropping off Latavia “Tay” McGee in the Mexican border city of Matamoros on Friday, March 3.

According to the L.A. Times, Orange told the AP in a text that she waited for hours for her friends to return before calling police to report them missing.

The police gave her a phone number to call if she hadn’t heard from her friends by Monday.

However, by Sunday, FBI agents were knocking on doors of family members in South Carolina to report the four friends had been kidnapped and were in grave danger.

It isn’t clear how the federal authorities learned about the kidnappings.

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Orange dismissed rampant speculation that the group was on a drug run in Mexico. She insisted that McGee went to Matamoros for a surgical procedure, nothing more.

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

The U.S. government and Mexican authorities moved quickly to find the four Americans, who were feared dead.

Mexican agents located the four Americans in a small shack about 30 minutes East of Matamoros on Tuesday morning. McGee was unharmed, but Williams was shot three times in the legs. Brown and Woodard were found dead from gunshot wounds.

Mexican authorities transported McGee and Williams to the U.S. border where they were met by dozens of FBI agents and transferred to a hospital in Brownsville.

Orange told the AP she couldn’t provide more information because she was awaiting a phone call from McGee who was being discharged from the hospital on Wednesday.

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South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham introduced legislation to designate Mexican drug cartels as “terrorist organizations” on Wednesday, March 8. Graham said the designation would authorize the use of military force against the drug cartels in Mexico.

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Relatives said they weren’t surprised that Brown, Williams and Woodard (pictured) drove with McGee to Mexico to make sure she arrived safely. They were extremely close. The childhood friends grew up together in the South Carolina town of Lake City.

Friends and supporters attended a prayer service for the victims in Scranton, S.C. on Wednesday. About 40 people attended the vigil. Four candles were lit for the victims.

Lake City leaders called for the community to support the victims’ families.

“You never know what tomorrow is going to bring,” said Barry Epp, 28, who grew up near Woodard and McGee. “You gotta love your people while they’re here,” he said.