The family of a B.C. man who has gone missing in Mexico says it is terrified for the safety of the 22-year-old.
Diego Hernandez, 22, and his American business partner Craig Silva, were last seen in Puerto Vallarta on May 8, according to family and local media reports.
Mr. Hernandez had moved to the country less than two years ago and had worked as a martial arts instructor. Mr. Hernandez’s mother also lives in Mexico.
Just days before going missing, Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Silva had thrown a large martial arts event, according to Amanda Morales, Mr. Hernandez’s aunt.
She said it was known to just a few individuals that the two men would be withdrawing money shortly after the event to pay off outstanding bills.
Ms. Morales says her family has been informed by two witnesses, including a local journalist, that the two men were last seen being taken out of Mr. Silva’s truck and put into a municipal police vehicle.
A missing persons report was filed within a day of the disappearance, she said, but the police have been quoted in local media as saying they only become aware that the two men were missing five days after it happened.
Ms. Morales added that her family in Mexico has been shown video of Mr. Hernandez, days after being reported missing, withdrawing money out of ATM machines flanked by two heavily camouflaged men.
“That’s the only proof of life we have,” Ms. Morales said, adding that the information her family is receiving is coming from authorities external to the Puerto Vallarta police, who have now taken over the investigation.
The Globe and Mail contacted the Puerto Vallarta police, but no one was able to answer questions concerning the disappearance of the two men.
Mr. Morales said that days after the two men went missing, a local tip line also received a call saying Mr. Hernandez had been taken, but it had been a case of mistaken identity and he would be returned. There was no mention of Mr. Silva, she said.
“The only thing they demanded was not to go to the press or the media,” Ms. Morales said. “It was six days after he disappeared, and nothing came of it. He hasn’t appeared and they haven’t returned them.”
Mr. Morales said Mr. Hernandez’s father and brother have joined his mother in Mexico to help authorities with the investigation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade confirmed Monday that Canadian consular officials in Mexico are providing consular services to the family and are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.