Jessy Pacheco, a recent medical school graduate from Van Buren, told reporters he is grateful to be home in Arkansas and reunited with his family after surviving what Mexican officials described as an apparent kidnapping.
Speaking to television news reporters outside a Van Buren church Sunday, the new doctor offered few details about his ordeal. But he expressed anguish at the loss of a longtime friend and fellow medical student, Carlos Alejandro Delgadillo Romero.
Delgadillo, who had gone to a Guadalajara nightclub with Pacheco to celebrate the end of the school year, was gunned down in the pre-dawn hours of June 16, shortly after exiting the building, witnesses said.
Mexican law enforcement officials say they believe the same criminals who shot Delgadillo, 26, also kidnapped Pacheco, 29, before speeding away.
Investigators in Jalisco state said they had found no ties between the medical students and the area's criminal cartels.
In the interview, Pacheco portrayed Delgadillo's murder as tragic and senseless.
"He didn't deserve it. I didn't deserve it either, but he was a great guy. Carlos was a close friend of mine, and I'm sorry that it happened to him. We've prayed a lot for his family," he said.
The criminals struck less than 48 hours after Pacheco received his medical degree from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara.
Pacheco's disappearance was heavily publicized in the Mexican press as well as on Spanish-language television networks that air across the continent.
Seven days after donning graduation robes and five days after Delgadillo's killing, Pacheco was spotted at a Mexican airport, boarding a Dallas-bound flight. His mother was right beside him.
Since then, neither Mexican nor U.S. government officials have said much publicly about what happened.
Surveillance camera videos from the nightclub and a nearby convenience store were never released.
Mexican officials said Pacheco exited the country before they could interview him. They gave no indication, however, that they're eager to speak with him about the incident.
Kidnappings and murders in Mexico rarely result in arrests and convictions, experts say.
And the criminals are incredibly brazen.
Earlier this year, gunmen kidnapped and detained 11 police officers in Puebla, a state of roughly 6.1 million located primarily south and east of Mexico City. The members of law enforcement were beaten and stripped of their guns and robbed of their vehicles but were allowed to live.
Sometimes, wealthy people are targeted. Billionaire Alfredo Harp Helu, held for 3 ½ months, was released in 1994, after his family reportedly paid $30 million in ransom.
But people of lesser means also fall victim.
In April, a Tucson, Ariz., couple were taken hostage just over the border from Nogales, Ariz. Held for a ransom of $15,000, they were reportedly rescued before the money had been paid.
U.S.-bound migrants, traveling north from Central America also are increasingly targeted.
And in 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College were seized in or around Iguala, Guerrero. They are presumed dead.
"We are aware of these reports. The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State," a U.S. State Department official said Monday of Pacheco's disappearance and subsequent reappearance. "Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to comment further. We refer you to Mexican authorities for any additional questions."
Portions of Pacheco's interview aired nationally on Sunday's NBC evening news as well as on Arkansas stations.
When television reporters pressed for details about his ordeal, Pacheco steered clear of specifics.
Indeed, he didn't say he'd been kidnapped.
"I can't recall anything. I mean, it was just complete blackout," he said, according to video posted online by KNWA-TV. "Graduation was amazing. All my family [and] friends were there. We were just celebrating and the next thing you know, I blacked out. And then I end up ... back, you know, back home [in Arkansas]. I'm just glad I'm home."
During the interview, Pacheco's mother, Vilma Franco, clasped his left arm while he spoke. The young doctor, who appeared to have a black eye, buried his hands in his pockets and stared at the ground for much of the interview.
Duncan Wood, director of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute, said he doesn't know what occurred to Pacheco but that in general victims are often reluctant to discuss details of their ordeals.
"In many, many cases, kidnap victims [and] people who have been the subject of extortion or threat will not speak about it," the Washington think tank official said. "Certainly that is a pattern in kidnapping and extortion cases."
Trauma is also common, he said.
"I've known a number of people who've been kidnapped and it's generally a terrifying experience," he said.
Sometimes, victims need months to recover, he added.
When kidnappings are underway, lives hang in the balance, he noted.
"A lot of people disappear. Their bodies are never found. It can often turn out badly," he said.
Pacheco and his family have expressed gratitude that their ordeal had ended.
Family members say they're focused now on helping Pacheco recover from the trauma and encouraging him to heal.
They're trying to avoid the media spotlight and on Facebook, they're requesting privacy.
"Jessy is done with interviews," a cousin by marriage, Francine Solis, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Monday.
Metro on 06/25/2019
Print Headline: Doctor from Arkansas glad to be home after ordeal in Mexico; he calls friend’s death senseless