Three bodies found in northern Mexico where Perth brothers went missing | Australia news

Three bodies have been found in an area of northern Mexico where two Australian brothers and an American friend are missing.

Perth siblings Callum and Jake Robinson, both in their 30s, were travelling in the region on a surfing holiday, with their friend Jack Carter Rhoad, a US citizen. The trio was reported missing when they failed to check into pre-arranged accommodation near the city of Ensenada last weekend.

Late Friday Mexico time, the state attorney general’s office confirmed at least three bodies had been found in a remote and “difficult to access” area in the Ensenada region of the Baja California peninsula. The bodies have not yet been formally identified.

News outlet Zeta reported the bodies were found in a well, in steep and rugged ground on ranchland at Santo Tomás on the Pacific coast. It also reported a fourth body, likely to have been there longer, was recovered from the same place.

A burnt-out ute, matching the description of the one the three men were driving, was found earlier nearby, sparking an intense search of the area.

Map of northern Mexico showing locations of K-38 surf spot and Baja California

The Robinson brothers’ last contact with their family was last Saturday. The surfers had planned to camp near the beach last weekend, then stay at an Airbnb in Rosarito, according to social media posts by friends and family. But they never checked into their accommodation, and Callum Robinson failed to show for work in San Diego last week.

Friends and family appealed on social media for any information on their whereabouts, saying it was “out of character” for them not to be in contact.

On Friday, the Australian brothers’ parents, Debra and Martin Robinson, said they were “heading to the US/Mexico to be as close as possible to the area where they were last seen”.

“Callum and Jake are beautiful human beings,” they said in a statement to media.

“We love them so much and this breaks our heart. Our only comfort right now is that they were together doing something they passionately loved.”

Baja California’s state chief prosecutor, María Elena Andrade Ramírez, said the chances of finding the men had diminished as a result of delays to the investigation.

“Unfortunately, a notice of their disappearance was only filed in the last few days, so very important hours were lost there,” she told a press conference in Mexico on Friday.

Three Mexican nationals, a woman and two men, have been arrested in relation to the disappearance of the three men.

The woman was arrested in the town of Maneadero, about 8km south of Ensenada city on Mexico’s Pacific coast. She was carrying a grey iPhone with a picture of a man matching the description of one of the missing men, as well as a small quantity of drugs.

Investigators have found abandoned tents believed to have belonged to the missing men near to where they were last seen. Andrade Ramírez said also at the same site “other evidence was found that could be linked to these three people we have under investigation”.

Antonio Otañez, president of the Baja California Surf Association, told the Guardian the news of the men’s disappearance was “painful for the surfer community”.

“Everyone is in shock. We can’t believe it.”

He said the Baja California peninsula surfing community would hold a rally on Sunday, “to show solidarity with our Australian and American friends, and to demand security for the surfer community in the whole state”.

“Some friends told me they met [the missing surfers] here in the 38 and in San Miguel. They told me they were really great guys, friendly.”

Otañez said the area was not especially dangerous for surfers.

“You think Tijuana and you think cartel, mafia. But we who live here don’t see such risk. Of course, there’s crime. And you hear about deaths, but these are usually between the drug trafficking groups. But against civilians? Situations like this are very rare here. And still more with foreigners.”

But Otañez said the road to Punta San Jose was isolated.

“You have to drive for about an hour on a dirt track. And there’s no signal, no electricity, nothing. I’ve been various times and it’s a beautiful place with perfect waves. I have no idea what happened. But it’s very easy to get lost there. It’s a dirt track in the middle of nowhere.”

Governor of Baja California Marina Del Pilar said authorities were determined to resolve the case.

“We will not rest until we find the location of Jack Carter [Rhoad], Jake and Callum Robinson, a task in which we will spare no time, resources, or efforts. We will take the necessary measures to resolve this case, as we will not allow Baja California to see its peace disturbed, nor will we allow the tranquillity of those who visit us to be disrupted.”

A spokesperson from Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade told the Guardian “the Australian embassy in Mexico City is working closely with the Australian federal police and local authorities regarding the two Australians reported missing in Mexico”.

“The department … recognises this is a very distressing time for the family and is in regular contact with them to provide support.”

The department has urged people to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Baja California “due to the threat of violent crime”.

Drug cartels are known to operate in the region and the state’s chief prosecutor said “all lines of investigation” remained open.

The US state department said it was aware of a US citizen missing in the Baja California region of Mexico, and stood “ready to provide all appropriate assistance”.

“The US department of state and our embassies and consulates abroad have no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas.”

In reference to news reports that bodies had been recovered in the region where the men were last seen, a spokesperson said: “We are aware of those reports and are closely monitoring the situation. At this time we have no further comment.”

Violence in Mexico soared with the launch of the militarised “war on drugs” in 2006, and it has remained stubbornly high throughout the term of López Obrador, which began in 2018.

In 2023 Mexico saw more than 30,000 homicides for the sixth consecutive year. More than 100,000 people are also missing.

In 2015, Western Australian surfers Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas were murdered, believed to have been shot by gang members in the neighbouring Sinaloa region before their van and bodies were burnt.

The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, as well as the opposition foreign spokesman, Simon Birmingham, and WA’s premier, Roger Cook, expressed their concerns for the surfers’ safety and wishes for their safe return.

with AAP and Reuters

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *