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No Atlanta investigation in missing persons case

Why hasn't APD begun looking for two Mexican men?

On April 8, Horacio Torres and Ansaldo Lara ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Atlanta around noon. The two men had traveled to Atlanta to try to find a construction job, but with no success, had decided to return home to Burlington, N.C. Minutes before leaving Atlanta, the men called their families and told them they'd be back by 6 p.m.

But they never returned.

Now, six weeks have passed and there's no lead on what might've happened to the men. Part of the problem lies in confusion as to where an investigation should stem from. The Alamance County Sheriff's Department in North Carolina says Torres disappeared in Atlanta, placing the case out of its jurisdiction. The Atlanta Police Department claims it can't conduct the investigation because Torres was last seen in North Carolina. With no nationwide standards on how to handle adult missing persons, each agency has its own procedures.

"It's a jurisdictional matter that goes back and forth and doesn't go anywhere," says Erin Bruno of the National Center for Missing Adults.

On April 10, Torres' brother, Benito, filed a missing persons report in Alamance County. Randy Jones, a public information officer for the Alamance Sheriff's Department, says it has opened an investigation, registered Torres on the National Crime Information Center and alerted all local authorities within 25 miles of I-85 — the path from Burlington to Atlanta.

"We have no jurisdiction in this case," Jones says. "But we've done everything we can. I don't know what [Atlanta] is doing."

On April 25, Atlanta police found Torres' red Oldsmobile in a crime-ridden area of southeast Atlanta. The vehicle was locked and didn't show any evidence of foul play. Even though Atlanta police found the car and linked it to a missing persons alert, they still won't open an investigation.

"The man was last seen in North Carolina," says Atlanta public information officer Steve Coleman. "So we can't do anything."

But according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, an investigation should start in the location from where a person goes missing. "I don't understand why Atlanta isn't doing anything," says Benito Torres. "Men are missing and even though they aren't from Atlanta, we last heard from them from there."




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