By Jen Kastner
ODESSA- A full year has passed since an Odessa man and his two family members went missing in Mexico. Barnaby Gabaldon, a U.S. citizen and 22-years-old at the time, along with his father, Alfredo Gabaldon and brother-in-law David Garcia, both Mexican nationals, disappeared on February 11, 2012.
A close family member who wished to remain anonymous tells NewsWest 9, "People want us to give up but we're not giving up. We know that they're coming home. We just don't know when."
It was a Friday afternoon when Barnaby Gabaldon and his girlfriend traveled into Ojinaga, Mexico, to visit family for the weekend. On Saturday, Barnaby and the two other men reportedly left the house they were staying in to go run errands. A family friend, we're told, witnessed them getting pulled over to the side of the road and kidnapped by Mexican authorities. However, the family of the men say that Mexican law enforcement denies any kidnapping allegations.
When the news broke, the Basin went into shock. Barnaby Gabaldon was well-known throughout Odessa. He graduated from Permian High School and attended Odessa College.
During the weeks following their disappearances, rumors flew across the Internet as to their whereabouts. Some people heard their bodies were discovered while others heard they were alive and returning home. All the while, the FBI reported to NewsWest 9 that the three were still considered missing and that they were actively investigating their disappearances.
In July of 2012, top cartel member Benjamin Valeriano, Jr., was captured in Mexico City. He reportedly had direct ties to drug trafficking operations in the Basin. At the time, the FBI told NewsWest 9 that Valeriano may be tied to the disappearances of the three men. Since then, however, we've received no updates on that possible link.
Just a few days prior to their disappearances, the U.S. Department of State issued a new travel warning for Mexico in response to the escalation in violence. One of their biggest concerns cited referred to the rise in kidnappings and disappearances. In November of 2012, it issued a new update but the warnings cited were the same as before.
"We no longer visit family in Mexico. We just don't consider it safe," the close family member said.
She says they still hear ugly rumors from time to time.
"People tell us they're already dead or just negative things like that and we just refuse to believe it. Every day is hard. Every 11th day of the month is hard knowing that it's marking another month," the family member said.
On Wednesday, NewsWest 9 talked to FBI-El Paso media spokesperson Agent Michael Martinez. He says the bureau has nothing new to report but that the investigation is still open.