Saturday, June 15, 2024

2 arrested in Baja California in case of missing LA firefighter

A couple has been arrested in Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, in connection with the disappearance in August of a Los Angeles firefighter who is still missing.

Frank Aguilar, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, had been on medical leave since March and traveled to a condo he owns in San Antonio del Mar in August to check on things. On August 20, he disappeared. 

On Thursday afternoon Fanny Gabriela Gómez Castellanos, 32, and Santos González Casillas, 27, were arrested and found to be in possession of Aguilar’s bank card, which has been used since the man went missing.  

The two denied any knowledge of Aguilar’s disappearance, but authorities believe otherwise. 

The day he disappeared, Aguilar, 48, spoke by phone with his uncle and told him he was going to meet up with a friend in the Misión del Mar area of Playas de Rosarito.

Investigators believe that person was Gómez, who identified herself to Aguilar as Montserrat. Police found bloodstains on the highway where the two were supposed to meet. The blood matched Aguilar’s DNA and neighbors reported hearing shots fired that night.

It is believed that González tried to kidnap Aguilar after Gómez lured him to the meeting place, but Aguilar resisted and González shot him. Blood was also found in the suspect’s vehicle.

Aguilar’s condo was later found ransacked and his car and motorcycle were missing. González and Gómez appear on the condo’s surveillance camera footage the night he disappeared.

The suspects have been charged with forced disappearance and theft, and face 25 to 50 years in prison if found guilty. 

Authorities say they will continue to search for Aguilar “as if he is alive.”

“We completely hope that we find answers from these people, but we are disgusted in these people,” said Bella, Aguilar’s daughter.

“I feel devastated, I need to know where he is because I don’t want him to end up on a hill, in a hole, in a grave, which I don’t know, “said Martha Carmona, Aguilar’s mother.

Suspicions that he may have been kidnapped surfaced early on. 

“I want to say very clearly to anybody who would kidnap a member of our fire department that this is a member of not just of our city, government, family, but of our community here in Los Angeles,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on September 2. 

“We will work tirelessly to make sure that Frank is returned safely,” Garcetti added. “This is somebody who has put his life on the line for us, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that law enforcement in Mexico has whatever support it needs.”

The Baja California Attorney General’s Office said the FBI is assisting in the search for Aguilar.

Source: KTLA (en), Zeta Tijuana (sp)

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