Mexican officials say three bodies have been discovered in Baja Mexico during the search for three missing foreigners

February 8, 2020 - Surfers take to the water on a calm morning at Cerritos Beach, Baja California Sur.  (Meghan Dhaliwal/For The Times)

Surfers take to the water on a calm morning at Cerritos Beach, Baja California Sur. (Meghan Dhaliwal / For The Times)

Mexican authorities said Friday that three bodies have been recovered in an area of ​​Baja California near where two Australians and an American went missing last weekend during an apparent camping and surfing trip.

Prosecutors did not say whether the bodies were those of the three foreigners, but said the bodies were discovered during the search for the missing men. It also announced that three people questioned in the missing men case had been arrested and charged.

“Three bodies were found south of the city of Ensenada, and they were recovered in cooperation with other authorities during a specialized operation because they were found in a difficult-to-reach area,” the agency said in a statement.

“This was done as part of the search for two Australians and one American who were reported missing,” the office said.

Read more:Three friends drove from California to Mexico for a surfing trip. Then they disappeared

The site where the bodies were discovered near the municipality of Santo Tomás was close to the remote coastal area where the missing men’s tents and truck were found on a remote stretch of coast on Thursday.

The men – identified by relatives as brothers Jake and Callum Robinson from Australia and American Jack Carter Rhoad – went missing last Saturday. They didn’t show up at their planned accommodation this weekend.

The US State Department said: “We are aware of these (agency reports) and are closely monitoring the situation. We have no further comment at this time.”

Baja California prosecutors had said Thursday they were questioning three people in the case. On Friday, the office said the three had been arrested and charged with a crime equivalent to kidnapping. It was unclear whether more charges would be filed against them.

María Elena Andrade Ramírez, the chief prosecutor, said the evidence found with the abandoned tents was linked to the three people questioned about the missing foreigners.

“A working team (of investigators) is at the site where they were last seen, where tents and other evidence have been found that could be linked to these three people we are investigating,” Andrade Ramírez said Thursday. “There is a lot of important information that we cannot make public.”

While drug cartels are active in the area, she said, “all lines of inquiry are open at this time. We can’t rule anything out until we find them.”

On Wednesday, the mother of the missing Australians, Debra Robinson, posted on a local community Facebook page to appeal for help finding her sons. Robinson said Callum and Jake had not been heard from since April 27. They had booked accommodation in the nearby town of Rosarito.

Robinson said one of her sons, Callum, had diabetes. She also said the American with them was named Jack Carter Rhoad, but the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City did not immediately confirm that. The US State Department said it was aware of reports of a US citizen missing in Baja, but did not provide further details.

Andrade Ramírez said her office was in contact with Australian and US officials. But she suggested the time that had passed could make it harder to find the missing trio.

“Unfortunately, they were only reported missing in recent days. So that meant that important hours or time were lost,” she said.

In 2015, two Australian surfers, Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas, were killed in the western state of Sinaloa, across the Gulf of California – also known as the Sea of ​​Cortez – from the Baja Peninsula. Authorities said they were victims of highway bandits. Three suspects have been arrested in that case.

Stevenson writes for the Associated Press.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.