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Mexican officials say 3 bodies recovered in Baja California during search for 3 missing foreigners

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities said Friday that three bodies were 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.

The state prosecutors office 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 who were being questioned in the case of the missing men had been arrested and charged.

“Three bodies were found south of the city of Ensenada, and they were recovered in coordination with other authorities during a specialized operation because they were found in a zone of difficult access,” the office said in a statement.

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

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

The men — identified by family members as brothers Jake and Callum Robinson from Australia and American Jack Carter Rhoad — went missing Saturday. They did not show up at their planned accommodations over the weekend.

The U.S. State Department said: “We are aware of those reports (of bodies) and are closely monitoring the situation. At this time we have no further comment.”

Baja California prosecutors had said Thursday that 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 if they might face more charges.

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

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

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

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

Robinson said one of her sons, Callum, was diabetic. She also mentioned that the American who was with them was named Jack Carter Rhoad, but the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City did not immediately confirm that. The U.S. State Department said it was aware of reports a U.S. citizen missing in Baja, but gave no further details.

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

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the last few days that they were reported missing. So, that meant that important hours or time was lost,” she said.

In 2015, two Australian surfers, Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas, were killed in western Sinaloa state, 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 were arrested in that case.

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