Mexican police arrest three over missing Australian surfers

Mexican police arrest three men in relation to case of two missing Australian surfers thought to have been murdered

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Forensic personnel inspect on November 21, 2015 by the burned down van in which allegedly two Australian citizens were travelling through the Sinaloa state, near Novolato, Mexico

Mexican authorities have detained three men in connection with the suspected murder of two Australian surfers reported missing in a part of Mexico notorious for drug trafficking.

A burnt-out van belonging to one of the Australians was found in the northwestern state of Sinaloa last month with two charred corpses inside.

Authorities are still checking the identity of the victims, but suspect they were the missing men, Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman.

The state prosecutor's office in Sinaloa said it had arrested three men over their disappearance and that two other suspects, including one it believes shot the pair dead and then burned their remains along with the van, remained at large.

Lucas and Coleman were due to travel to the western city of Guadalajara on Nov. 21 but never arrived, according to a message posted on social media site Facebook. They were both 33, according to local media.

The abandoned van was found near the Pacific coast in Sinaloa, about 124 miles (200 km) south of where they were last seen and some 445 miles (716 km) north of Guadalajara.

Sinaloa is renowned in Mexico as the heartland of some of the country's most powerful and dangerous drug cartels.