When Americans go missing in Mexico, U.S. officials have to tell loved ones, ‘Go to Mexico’

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Francisco "Frank" Aguilar went missing in Northern Baja California. He is a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department. (Courtesy: Aguilar Family)

Francisco “Frank” Aguilar went missing in Northern Baja California. He is a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department. (Courtesy: Aguilar Family)

When Karla Izquierdo’s ex-husband, Francisco Aguilar, disappeared in Rosarito, she unwillingly joined a group no one wants to become a member of: the tens of thousands of families searching across Mexico for their missing loved ones.

But, in one sense, the case is a relative rarity because Aguilar, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, is an American citizen.

Each year, millions of Americans visit Mexico without incident. Still, 324 American citizens have vanished since 2006 and not been found, according to the Mexican federal government’s official tally of the missing. That compares with more than 70,000 missing Mexicans.

The Aguilar case highlights some of the frustrations Americans face when forced to confront the weakness of the Mexican criminal justice system, one in which those accused of violent crimes are often acquitted, even when they confess. Law enforcement officials in the United States say it can be frustrating for family members when they realize U.S. police have no jurisdiction in Mexico and have to rely on their Mexican counterparts to investigate cases of missing Americans.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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