Missing LAFD Firefighter Possibly Kidnapped in Mexico; Investigators Find Evidence of Violence

Francisco Aguilar, 48, was reported missing on Aug. 21 after he failed to check in with relatives while visiting his condo in northern Baja, Mexico.

A veteran firefighter with the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) who went missing in Mexico last week appears to have been the victim of a "violent kidnapping," Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Wednesday.

Aguilar, 48, was reported missing on August 21 by his family members as they didn't hear for him after he left to visit his condo in Rosarito, Mexico, for the weekend. His relatives said they last spoke to him on the evening of August 20 via a WhatsApp text message. The FBI got involved in his disappearance six days later.

"I want to say very clearly to anybody 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 during the press briefing. "We will work tirelessly to make sure that Frank is returned safely."

Francisco Aguilar
Francisco Aguilar Twitter

Garcetti also pleaded with the alleged kidnappers to release Aguilar and allow him to return home safe and sound. "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," he said.

Condo Ransacked, Cars Missing

Baja California head prosecutor Hiram Sanchez said on Wednesday that investigators had found evidence that indicates a violent crime took place in the condo, leading them to believe he may have been taken against his will.

"We are working with technical personnel to establish his last instance when his freedom was taken," Sanchez said, KRQE reported. "We have found a lot of evidence that leads us to believe this was an act of violence, nevertheless we have not determined for sure this is what happened to him."

Aguilar's brother Gabriel, who went to Mexico to help search for his missing brother, also corroborated the authorities' account, saying he found Aguilar's condo in disarray as if it had been ransacked and several things were missing from his property, including his brother's cars.

According to investigators, surveillance cameras recorded people inside Aguilar's condo when he was "forcibly taken." They claim to be in the process of identifying the suspects but have not released how many people are involved or who they might be. Aguilar is a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department who served in the army before becoming a firefighter.