FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — One man credits his faith in God for getting him through what he called “a very horrific dark place,” literally.

In 2019, Dr. Jesse Pacheco was celebrating his graduation from the UAG School of Medicine (Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara) in Mexico when the celebration became a nightmare.

Dr. Pacheco described having to go through obstacles in life, but on Independence Day in 2012, he became a Christian and began a “bond” with God. Little did he know that seven years later how the relationship would come into play.

One major obstacle was going to Mexico, a country he had never lived in before, to get his medical degree to become a doctor. He began medical school in the summer of 2015 and graduated from UAG four years later. “The city, the people, the community, and the environment was very welcoming, easy to get from place to place, and I never encountered any kind of violence nor problems,” said Dr. Pacheco.

In 2017, he returned to his hometown of Fort Smith to finish some medical training. He began hearing stories of crime and violence and that some situations involved medical students from Mexico and the United States.

Upon his return to Guadalajara, the school warned the students to refrain from visiting certain areas during different times of the day and night. The students were given U.S. Embassy or Consulate phone numbers in case of an emergency. “This gave all of us some sort of peace of mind until an actual severe incident occurred,” he said.

Family/friends in Guadalajara for Dr. Jesse Pacheco’s graduation. 2019. Photo used with permission.

Family and close friends went to Guadalajara for Dr. Pacheco’s graduation. He said he had never encountered any issues until graduation night.

“We all went out to celebrate the graduation on our last night there. Little did I know that my friend Carlos Delgadillo (Romero) and I, who were the last ones to leave the club, would have to suffer such a traumatic event,” said Pacheco.

He had lived there for two years, knew the city well, and never encountered any type of violence. “We [students] heard stories and saw the news about these horrific incidents, but we never thought it would be us living it,” said Dr. Pacheco.

While leaving the club around dawn on June 16, Dr. Pacheco disappeared and his friend, Delgadillo, was later found dead from a gunshot wound.

“Heaven gained a wonderful angel who was going to be an amazing future doctor that night, while I was gone for five days in a very horrific dark place,” said Dr. Pacheco. “This is something nobody can be prepared for, but all I could do was trust in God and put my faith in Him because He knew I did not belong in this dark place.”

Dr. Pacheco was told by friends, family, and his mother what happened during his missing days. They told him they tried getting help from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, police in Mexico, local areas where the incident happened. “The amount of help they got was little to none which is when different actions were taken,” he said.

“My mother, friends, family, coworkers, classmates, and anyone who knew me helped to try and get information about what had happened to me and where I had gone missing, this included prayers and getting the media involved,” said Dr. Pacheco. He believes this was a big part of what made the difference in getting home.

“But God is the one who had the power to bring me back home. I prayed every day until I was released for God to give me another chance in life. I told God that if it was my time to go, I completely understand. But I begged Him and told Him that my mother did not deserve the pain and agony from me being gone from this world too soon. She had worked so hard all her life to give not just her family and brothers a better life, but also my brother and me. If it wasn’t for her, we would not be where we are today. My mom’s strength and faith are what kept her going every day until I was back in her arms,” said Dr. Pacheco.

In situations like these, I believe the first thing to do is pray to God for safety and peace for the person affected and their loved ones. “I cannot express enough how important it is for us to inform our close friends or family where we will be at all times when we are away from home in another country,” said Dr. Pacheco. “With crime and violence increasing all over this world, we have to be in touch with each other because there are things we have no control over, not even the police or investigators.”


  • Do stay close to the people you travel with and communicate frequently.
  • Do not trust anyone else other than your family or friends, no matter if it’s law enforcement or servers at a hotel/resort.
  • When things go very wrong, the people we think we can trust will disappear and will be no help to those visiting from another country.
  • Do get the word out as soon as possible. Getting the information out on news and social media means the quicker people can work to find the missing person.
  • As more time goes by without trying to get info or finding your missing loved one, the harder it is to get information from anyone and makes it harder to find someone.

I thank God every day for giving me a second chance in life and bringing me back home. I still have not recovered from this and I deal with it every day of my life. But God, my mother, family, and close friends help me cope with it and help me get through the rough days.

I cannot express how thankful I am for everyone who helped get me out there on the news, social media, and in any way possible to help find me and bring me back home.

Everyone’s prayers, hard work, and support played a major role. Thanks to all of this, I am back home working on completing the work necessary to get into a residency program and become a practicing medical doctor in the U.S.

Dr. Jesse Pacheco went missing for five days in 2019 while in Mexico.

Gerardo Octavio Solís Gómez, the prosecutor for the state of Jalisco in Mexico, said (Friday) that there is enough evidence to believe that Pacheco may have been kidnapped, according to an NBC report published in 6/2019.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory assessed the country’s safety as Level 2. This meant visitors should use caution, in addition, “do not travel” warnings were issued for the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, or Sinaloa due to crime and Tamaulipas for both crime and kidnapping.

The number of kidnapping incidents in Mexico is difficult to know because most of the cases go unreported to authorities, based on the belief that police are the ones involved in the kidnapping, according to one government report.

Government statistics show 1,480 reported kidnapping cases in Mexico in 2018, in 2019 there were 1,323. Investigations implicated police (or former law enforcement officials) in many of these incidents.

The FBI investigated 113 kidnapping events in Mexico in 2018. Of 64, the victim was a U.S. citizen, in 10, the victim was a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident, and in 39 cases, the extortion/ransom call targeted a number in the United States.

The Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Justice (Consejo Ciudadano de Seguridad Publica y Procuracion de Justicia) takes complaints from those in Mexico City afraid to go to the police. Call 5533-5533.