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After 3 Tourists Go Missing, Bodies Are Found in Baja California

After 3 Tourists Go Missing, Bodies Are Found in Baja California

A dayslong search for three missing tourists who disappeared near a surfing town close to the U.S.-Mexico border ended tragically on Friday as the authorities said that they had located three bodies in a water hole.

Two Australian brothers, Callum and Jake Robinson, and their friend, Jack Carter Rhoad, a U.S. citizen, had been on vacation surfing and camping along the coast near the Mexican city of Ensenada when they disappeared on Saturday.

Debra Robinson, the mother of the brothers, said in a social media post on Wednesday that they had booked an Airbnb in another coastal town north of Ensenada but never showed up there.

“Reaching out to anyone who has seen my two sons. They have not contacted us,” she pleaded to the more than 120,000 members of a community Facebook page created for people interested in touring Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

She added that Callum was a Type 1 diabetic.

The state’s attorney general, María Elena Andrade Ramírez, said in a news conference on Thursday that prosecutors were investigating three people related to the case but that crucial time had passed since the disappearance of the three men.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the last few days that they were reported missing,” Ms. Andrade Ramírez told reporters. “So, that meant that important hours or time was lost.”

In an interview, Ms. Andrade Ramírez said that after close examination of a 50-foot-deep water hole in La Bocana beach, near the town of Santo Tomás, Mexican authorities found three male bodies early on Friday. The already decomposed remains, she added, “meet the characteristics to assume with a high degree of probability” that they are the Robinson siblings and Mr. Rhoad.

Researchers will perform DNA tests to confirm the findings.

Prosecutors also believe that the three people tied to the deaths tried to seize the victims’ vehicle. When they resisted, Ms. Andrade Ramírez said, one man took out a gun, opened fire and then tried to dispose of their bodies. That person has been arrested.

“This aggression seems to have occurred in an unforeseen, circumstantial manner,” she added. “We pledge that this crime will not go unpunished.”

Human remains of a fourth male body, which has not yet been identified and is not connected to this case, was also found at the same site.

In 2022, 192 American citizens died in Mexico, State Department figures show, but most of those deaths were accidents or suicides. Only 46 were ruled as homicides.

The big waves in Baja California have long attracted throngs of surfers and travelers, many of whom have dealt with rising crime rates for nearly two decades.

But record levels of violence have hit the state in recent years. Government data shows that Baja California currently holds first place in vehicle theft and second place in homicides, most of which are related to drug dealing or organized crime, Mexico’s secretary of defense, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, said this year.

An official familiar with the investigation, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said a white pickup truck that the missing tourists had been traveling in was found charred near La Bocana beach. Other belongings and pieces of evidence were also being analyzed, the official added.

The swift effort to find the tourists was a rare exception in a country where nearly 100,000 people remain missing, according to the latest count provided by Mexican officials in March.

A majority of cases remain unsolved. Family members and volunteers are left on their own to follow up on leads, but the presence of cartels and a lack of support from the authorities make searching a dangerous mission.

The recent case in Ensenada recalled an episode in 2015 in which two Australian surfers, Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas, were killed as they drove across Sinaloa, another state in northern Mexico. Local authorities arrested three people who said they shot the two friends after they resisted a robbery. Their bodies were found inside their van, which had been doused in gasoline and set on fire.

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