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Wife of missing American meets with Mexican feds

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Falcon Lake Search Suspended
  • Tiffany Hartley meets with Mexican authorities in Texas
  • No Mexican agencies are actively searching for David Hartley
  • Hartley's wife says he was shot on Falcon Lake on September 30

(CNN) -- Federal and state authorities in Mexico held an eight-hour, "in-depth" interview with the wife of an American reportedly shot dead by gunmen investigators believe are linked to a Mexican drug gang, a U.S. spokesman confirmed Saturday.

Tiffany Hartley -- who says her husband, David, was shot September 30 on a lake that straddles the U.S.-Mexican border -- is "fully cooperating in assisting Mexican prosecutors with their investigation," said Brian Quigley, spokesman for the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Mexico.

Friday's interview with officials from the federal attorney general's office and the prosecutors in the state of Tamaulipas was held in the FBI field office in McAllen, Texas. It took place the day after Mexican authorities suspended the search for David Hartley.

"Mexican authorities told the U.S. consulate that the suspension of the search was only temporary and would continue at a later date," Quigley said. "We are going to hold them to that."

Earlier, Cynthia Young, Tiffany Hartley's mother, said that she, her daughter and Hartley's father met with Mexican and American officials on Friday.

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Young said the family was told that the Mexican government was "restrategizing" how it is handling the search for Hartley's body.

Young said that the day mostly entailed Tiffany Hartley refiling a witness statement with Mexican officials, recounting what happened on the day she said he was killed.

Young said the meeting occurred in McAllen, where Tiffany Hartley and her husband had recently relocated.

Earlier Friday, Tamaulipas state attorney general spokesman Ruben Dario Rios explained the decision to halt the search.

"Our investigators have taken a temporary recess so that we can better assess the strategies we are using to find the body. We are currently considering other approaches to our search," he said.

The search was suspended on Thursday. Responding to local reports that it may have been threats of imminent gun battles by the Los Zetas cartel that led to Mexican officials to suspend the search, Dario Rios said, "Negative."

"We have no official information of threats on our investigators."

Tiffany Hartley's mother said that "we're very disappointed" in the development.

"The longer this goes, the less chance there is of finding David," she said.

A report issued by a Texas-based think tank Thursday suggested that Hartley's death may have stemmed from a case of mistaken identity in the ongoing war between two Mexican drug cartels.

The Stratfor report, which cites anonymous sources, noted that David Hartley worked for an oil and gas company with operations in Reynosa, Mexico. The couple had lived there for two years and had only moved to McAllen within the past few months, the report said.

The truck they drove to Falcon Lake on September 30 still had a license plate from Tamaulipas state.

The couple drove their personal watercraft to the Old Guerrero area of the lake, which the report said is a "known battleground in the ongoing war in the Los Zetas and Gulf cartels."

The sources told Stratfor both cartels have been known to conduct surveillance and counter-surveillance operations on personal watercraft, so Zetas scouts identified them as possible Gulf spies, because of their license plate and their method and direction of travel on Falcon Lake. They were then apparently confronted by "Zetas enforcers," Stratfor said.

The sources told Stratfor the attack was unauthorized by senior Los Zetas members and "a damage control campaign is currently under way ... to identify and eliminate those who engaged the Hartleys without proper authorization."

Protocol involves prompt disposition of a body to ensure no evidence can be brought against the group, the report said.

Falcon Lake is about 70 miles west of the Hartleys' home in McAllen.

CNN's Ed Lavandera, Eric Fiegel and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.