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Search continues in Mexico for L.A. firefighter Garcetti said may have been kidnapped

Family members gathered in Montebello for a vigil for Francisco Aguilar, who disappeared last month from his condo in Mexico
Family members gathered in Montebello on Aug. 24 for a vigil for Francisco Aguilar, a Los Angeles firefighter who disappeared from his condo in Rosarito, Mexico, last month.
(KTLA-TV)

Nearly two weeks after a Los Angeles firefighter went missing in Mexico, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced during a news briefing Wednesday that “we learned from Mexican authorities” that Francisco Aguilar may have been violently kidnapped in Baja California.

However, the spokesman for the Baja California state prosecutor’s office told The Times that he could not confirm that investigators believe Aguilar was the victim of a kidnapping.

“The matter is under investigation,” spokesman Raul Gutierrez said Wednesday night. “There is no definite hypothesis yet of what happened.”

Aguilar, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, disappeared from his condo in Mexico last month, according to family members.

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Garcetti said at his media briefing that the city “would work tirelessly” to ensure Aguilar’s safe return. He later clarified at the briefing that he had only read a news report that said Aguilar had possibly been kidnapped and had no additional information.

Alex Comisar, spokesman for Garcetti, said the mayor’s office has been in contact with both U.S. and Mexican authorities about the case.

Baja California authorities said they have deployed “a significant number” of agents from the state’s missing persons team to find Aguilar, who disappeared two weeks ago.

According to a complaint filed with the Baja California attorney general’s office, Aguilar was last heard from at 8:44 p.m. Aug. 20, when he sent his family members his location via WhatsApp.

The next day, after they didn’t hear from him, several of his relatives went to look for him at his home.

When they didn’t find him, they contacted authorities for help. Mexican investigators, who are working with U.S. authorities on the case, searched Aguilar’s home, interviewed possible witnesses and contacted area hospitals, but still have no clear leads, officials said.

Aguilar’s family members said they went to check on him after he stopped communicating with them and found his vehicle missing and the condo ransacked, KCAL-TV reported.

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During a recent vigil at the family’s home in Montebello, relatives said Aguilar, 48, frequently visited his condo in Rosarito, a resort town south of Tijuana, the TV station reported.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said last week the agency has offered assistance in the search for Aguilar but is not leading the investigation.


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