Mexican trio charged over alleged armed robbery of Australian brothers, American on surfing trip after recovery of human remains

Mexican authorities have charged three people in connection with the case of missing Australians Jake and Callum Robinson and American Jack Carter Rhoad, after a number of bodies were recovered during the police investigation in the country’s north.

The trio disappeared earlier this week during a surfing trip in the northern state of Baja California, prompting a major search in the Ensenada region, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of the Mexico-U.S. border crossing.

On Saturday, four bodies were found thrown into a 15-meter deep pit near a cliff on the popular surfing beach of Punta San José, Santo Tomás, one of which was identified as that of a ranch owner reported missing several weeks ago.

Local police are yet to confirm whether the three other bodies are those of the Robinson brothers and Mr Rhoad, pending forensic examination.

Three Mexican nationals – two men and a woman – were arrested for investigation into the disappearance, with the Baja California prosecutor’s office later confirming on Saturday evening that charges had been filed against the individuals.

According to local reports, it is clear that the nature of the crime is akin to kidnapping and not murder.

The accused woman, in her 20s, was arrested after she was found by authorities allegedly turning on a phone believed to belong to one of the three missing men.

Before the bodies were discovered, a burned-out Ute that the surfers had used during their vacation was located, along with other personal items and abandoned tents, at a campsite around Punta San José.

The brothers were formally reported missing by their mother on April 27 after they failed to check into their accommodation in the city of Rosarito. However, police said the disappearance had occurred several days earlier.

Baja California’s attorney general’s office claims the men were shot during an armed robbery in an attempt that appears unrelated to the region’s widespread gang warfare.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said consular services had been called in following the disappearance of the Robinsons and contact with their family.

“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,” a DFAT spokesperson said.

A similar protocol is also being followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the missing American.

“All three bodies meet the characteristics to indicate with a high probability that they are both the American Carter Rhoad and the Robinson brothers from Australia,” Baja California Attorney General Maria Elena Andrade said.

The parents of the Perth brothers have flown to Mexico as the identification of the bodies is still ongoing.

They explained in an open letter that Jake had left Australia two weeks ago, before starting a new job at Geelong Hospital in Victoria, to visit Callum who had been living in the US with dreams of representing Australia as a professional lacrosse player.

Northern Mexico continues to pose a heightened threat of violent crime and drug-related violence, but travelers are advised to exercise a high degree of caution throughout the country.

Smartraveller lists murder, armed robbery, assault, extortion and kidnapping as the most common forms of crime targeting foreigners.