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The disappearance of a Los Angeles firefighter is likely the result of a “violent kidnapping,” according to the city’s mayor.
Francisco Aguilar, 48, who vanished on Aug. 21, was thought to be visiting another property he owned in Rosarito, Mexico, just south of the American border. His home was found ransacked by his family in the wake of his disappearance.
“I want to say very clearly to anyone who would kidnap a member of our fire department that this is a member not just of our city government family, but of our community here in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Detectives had previously suggested that Aguilar had been “forcibly taken,” according to CBS affiliate KCAL-TV. The mayor, meanwhile, pleaded for the 48-year-old firefighter’s safe return.
“We will work tirelessly to make sure that Frank is returned safely,” Garcetti added. “If this message gets to anyone who would dare kidnap an Angeleno who serves the people of Los Angeles, let him go and make sure he is able to safely return to our city and to his family.”
Mexican law enforcement is leading the investigation with assistance from U.S. authorities. California investigators said “a significant number” of agents are working to find Aguilar, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Our office has been in contact with both U.S. and Mexican authorities on the matter,” Alex Comisar, Deputy Communications Director for the mayor’s office, told Oxygen.com.
Aguilar is a 20-year-veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Times reported. He regularly visits his condo and made frequent trips across the U.S.-Mexico border, his family said.
“We haven’t been able to find him and we are fearing for the worst,” the missing firefighter’s mother told KCAL-TV.
When Aguilar’s relatives checked on his condo in late August, it had apparently been burglarized, sending the family into a tailspin as they searched for answers as to what may have transpired.
"The condo was ransacked, tables were overturned. It was a crazy, crazy episode," Bella Aguilar, his daughter, told KABC-TV. "Vehicles were missing, items were missing. It was devastating to hear ... It was so heartbreaking to hear."
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