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Mexico files its first charges in the case of American and Australian tourists killed during a surfing trip

Mexico files its first charges in the case of American and Australian tourists killed during a surfing trip

By Karol Suarez and Abel Alvarado, CNN

(CNN) — A suspect has been charged in connection with the deaths of two Australian brothers and an American who died during a surfing trip in Mexico, according to the Baja California Attorney General’s Office.

The suspect was charged with enforced disappearance in the case involving the three tourists, whose bodies were found last week in a 50-foot well with gunshot wounds to the head.

The Public Prosecution Service said in a statement on Wednesday that it would also report murder.

Brothers Jake and Callum Robinson and their friend Jack Carter Rhoad were surfing and camping near the city of Ensenada, about 60 miles south of the border city of Tijuana, when they went missing.

Mexican authorities believe that at some point between the afternoon of April 27 and the following morning, several people approached the surfers with the intention of stealing their vehicle, and “the reaction of the victims caused them to take their lives.”

Authorities said the suspect — one of three Mexican nationals arrested on suspicion of kidnapping in the case — was captured a “few hours” later.

“Other evidence, including tent rods, firearm casings, plastic gallon bottles, bloodstains and drag marks, was also collected at the site where they were believed to be camping,” authorities said.

Although Baja California has been plagued by drug cartel violence in recent years, this is rare in tourist areas like Ensenada.

Dozens of people held a protest in Ensenada last week, calling on authorities to do more to tackle the violence faced by both tourists and locals. Many held up surfboards with slogans written on them in tribute to the three tourists killed.

Drug cartels have terrorized Mexico with ever-increasing violence, fueled in part by soaring demand for drugs from American consumers and armed with an arsenal of weapons from north of the border.

Although parts of Mexico are established tourist destinations, parts of the country are plagued by violent crime, including kidnappings and human trafficking, especially in the border areas. Mexico’s murder rate is among the highest in the world and more than 100,000 people are still missing in the country. Research shows that only seven percent of murders in Mexico are ever solved.

Additional reporting by Jessie Yeung

The CNN Wire
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