The mothers of two Americans who have been missing for more than five years after being kidnapped in Mexico have spoken out in interviews to plea for their safe return.
Ernesto Garnica Jr., 28, and Roberto ‘Robert’ Franco Jr., 27, were both kidnapped in separate incidents in 2017, and have not been seen or heard from since, leaving their families anguished.
‘I feel Robert was abandoned by his government, him being a US citizen,’ Franco Jr.’s mother Lisa Torres told New York Post on Monday. ‘I feel as if they left him over there in a country he doesn’t know. Robert has not been represented in any way, shape or form.’
Garnica Jr. and Franco Jr. are among the estimated 550 Americans currently missing in Mexico, an issue that gained new attention following the highly publicized case where four Americans were abducted by a Mexican drug cartel after traveling into the country for cosmetic surgery.
In that case, two of the victims were killed by the kidnappers and the other two rescued alive – but for the families of Garnica Jr. and Franco Jr., and many others, the fate of their loved ones remains painfully unclear.
Ernesto Garnica Jr., 28, and Roberto ‘Robert’ Franco Jr., 27, were both kidnapped in separate incidents in 2017, and have not been seen or heard from since, leaving their families anguished
Garnica Jr. was last seen on August 31, 2017 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, just across the border from his home in Brownsville, Texas, where he was visiting relatives to celebrate his 23rd birthday.
Days later, his burned out Jeep Liberty was found on the side of a highway connecting Matamoros with nearby Rio Bravo. Inside was a dead body that was not Garnica Jr.’s, but has never been identified.
The missing American’s bank accounts were emptied days later, but his mother Jeannette Cerecer Ruiz told the Post that she is convinced he is still alive.
‘It’s a terrible nightmare. Only God knows when it will end,’ she told the newspaper.
Franco Jr. was last seen on July 28, 2017 when he left his home in Pasadena, Texas to visit relatives in Agualeguas, Nuevo Leon, a city less than 50 miles from Mexico’s border with Texas.
Border officials confirmed he crossed into Mexico, but he never arrived at his destination. Days later, his mother received a phone call with a ransom demand, and she wired thousands of dollars to the kidnappers, but never saw her son again.
‘Somewhere between the border crossing and his destination, something for sure happened, and that’s what we don’t know,’ his mother Torres told the Post.
Torres said she felt her son’s case did not get the same attention and response as the four Americans who were kidnapped earlier this month.
‘I don’t know why, that’s what I want answers to,’ she said. ‘Why didn’t he get the same response? I would like someone to tell me.’
Franco Jr.’s mother Lisa Torres is seen with her two sons. He was last seen on July 28, 2017 when he left his home in Pasadena, Texas to visit relatives in Agualeguas, Nuevo Leon
These are the current travel advisories for Mexico from the US government. Only two states – Yucatan and Campeche – are completely free of advisories
On March 3, South Carolina residents Latavia McGee, her cousin Shaeed Woodward and her friends Zindell Brown and Eric James crossed into Matamoros and came under attack at about two hours later.
Gulf Cartel henchmen were seen on video forcing McGee into the flatbed of a pickup truck and dumping the bodies of Woodward, Brown and James in the vehicle.
The three men were allegedly accompanying McGee on the road trip from South Carolina across the border for McGee’s surgery.
The surgery was initially described as a tummy tuck, but a police report citing interviews with friends and family later described it as a ‘gluteal augmentation,’ better known as a Brazilian butt lift.
Mexican law enforcement agents are investigating the possibility that members of the cartel kidnapped the Americans thinking that they were encroaching on their turf, according to an internal government document seen by Reuters.
DailyMail.com revealed lengthy rap sheets for the four kidnapped U.S. citizens with authorities stating, ‘drug trafficking’ cannot be ‘ruled out.’
McGee, a mother-of-five, and James, who was shot in the leg, were rescued from a cartel stash house six and a half miles away in the rural town of El Tecolote on Tuesday morning. Brown and Woodward were found dead in the house.
Mexican national and Matamoros resident Arely Servando, 33, was struck by a stray bullet and killed on the scene.
So far six people have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping, after the Gulf Cartel apologized and handed over five of its own members to local authorities.
Orange’s trip came to a sudden halt when she was denied entry because she lacked the proper identification – the four carrying on to Matamoros where they were caught in gang crossfire before being abducted. Only Williams and McGee surviving the ordeal
Members (pictured) of the Gulf Cartel’s Scorpions Group were abandoned on a Matamoros street and accused by the criminal organization of being behind the March 3 kidnapping of four Americans
A note from their bosses, written in Spanish, was left with the henchmen apologizing for the killings and claiming they were happy to hand over those responsible.
They claimed the assassins – who were part of the notorious Scorpions splinter group – operated outside of ‘cartel rules’ and ‘condemn’ the attack, adding ‘the CDG has always respected the life and integrity of the innocent.’
Each suspect is staring down the barrel of 80 years in prison for kidnapping and 60 years for murder if hit with the highest sentence.
Over the weekend, a Texas resident was charged with buying one of the weapons used in the kidnapping in the US and providing it to the cartel.
Roberto Lugardo Moreno made an initial appearance Monday at a federal court in Brownsville, after prosecutors said he admitted to purchasing firearms that he knew would be going from the US to a Mexican drug cartel.
Moreno is charged with knowingly conspiring to export or send from the United States a ‘multi-caliber AR style pistol’ for use by the Gulf Cartel, according to the criminal complaint
His detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.