by SEAN KIMMONS
The families of four San Marcos men and a boy who disappeared in Mexico last month still have no answers as FBI officials continue to investigate the missing persons’ case.
Luis Manuel Hernandez, 36; Carlos Ortega, 48; Nicolas Munoz, 32; Ricardo Gomez, 44; and 14-year-old Xovane Gomez have been missing since Nov. 27 when they traveled to Laredo to pick up paperwork on a vehicle.
Two of the men work for Heldenfels Enterprises, Inc., a San Marcos-based concrete company, who notified authorities Nov. 30 of their disappearance. Hernandez, who has worked at the company for 12 years, is a supervisor, and Munoz has been a general laborer for three years. Ortega’s wife also works at the company, officials said. Contrary to published reports, however, the group was not traveling to Laredo on behalf of the company, Vasys said.
“They traveled to Laredo to pick up some paperwork on a personal vehicle, not a company vehicle,” said Special Agent Erik Vasys, of the San Antonio FBI office. “From our understanding, they had some extra time and crossed the border to do some shopping.”
Frank Hernandez, the son of Luis Hernandez, said that his father called after he crossed the Mexican border into Nuevo Laredo around noon that day and said that they would return to San Marcos by that evening.
“That was the last thing we heard from him,” Frank Hernandez told the San Marcos Mercury on Monday.
It’s been a tough time for the families involved as the missing men are the main income earners for their respective households, he said.
Frank Hernandez said that his cousin, Xovane Gomez, recently moved to San Marcos from Chicago to start school in January.
“There are a lot of concerns,” he said. “There are a lot of things going through our heads right now.”
FBI officials say that they are working closely with Mexican authorities to solve the case. Two of the men are U.S. citizens while the others are resident aliens, Vasys said.
“We are working on some leads; however, we can’t go into detail on them,” Vasys said Monday.
Vasys said that authorities know that the men crossed the Mexican border but wouldn’t say how. Frank said that the families heard that there is video footage of their vehicle crossing the border.
Authorities are still unsure if foul play or a kidnapping is behind the disappearance. FBI officials have not received any ransom demands, Vasys said.
“We deal with kidnappings on a regular basis; this happens far too often,” Vasys said. “We are concerned for their security because of the conditions in Mexico.”
Frank Hernandez said his family will rely on their strength to get by.
“It’s part of life. Our family is really based on strength,” he said. “Whatever happens we have to be strong and keep on moving.”
The men were last seen driving a 2003 green Suburban Chevrolet with Texas license plate AD98575, Vasys said. FBI officials are asking anyone with information to call the FBI’s San Antonio office at (210) 225-6741.
According to a U.S. State Department travel warning for Mexico, criminals appear to especially target SUVs and full-size pick-up trucks for theft and car-jacking crimes.
Since 2006, roughly 22,700 people have been killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico. Many of those killed have been members of drug trafficking operations; however, innocent bystanders have been killed in shootouts between traffickers and Mexican law enforcement or between rival traffickers, the travel warning also stated.
The state department suggests U.S. citizens understand the risks of traveling to Mexico and to use common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur.Email | Print