Authorities in Mexico have arrested three men suspected of killing two Australian surfers whose burned remains are believed to have been found in a van registered to one of the men.
The three suspects were low-level drug dealers who had been robbing motorists on a stretch of road leading south through Navolato, Sinaloa, according to Attorney General Antonio Higuera. Two other suspects are still at large.
Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman, both 33, were on a surfing trip from Canada to Mexico but failed to arrive as planned in the city of Guadalajara on November 21.
Two bodies were found in a van the same day, on a back road in remote farmlands in Sinaloa — home of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
None of the five suspects were part of a major drug cartel, Higuera said. It’s alleged the men tried to rob the surfers as they drove through Sinaloa to Guadalajara.
Prosecutors said Coleman hit one of the robbers, and was then shot. The gang members then allegedly killed Lucas, before pouring gasoline over the surfers’ van and setting it alight.
Authorities released photos of evidence they said was associated with the alleged killings. They showed guns, ammunition, cellphones, laptops, and uniforms that appeared to be from the Federal Police.
The human remains found in the van are yet to be identified, but state authorities said the vehicle was registered to Coleman in Canada.
The men’s families were heading to Mexico from Perth, Australia to identify the body. A GoFundMe page has crowdsourced over AUS $60,000 (U.S. $44,000) to help them with their costs.