A senior official in the Mexican government has confirmed that a burned-out Chevy van found with two badly-burned bodies inside is the one that belonged to missing Australian surfers Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas.

Officials in Canada, where the van was purchased, also confirmed the match, backing up a statement issued yesterday by Australia‘s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

DNA testing is ongoing, with authorities attempting to match samples from a number of personal effects, and one of Lucas’s distinct dreadlocks, to the bodies.

The two Australian men were driving south from Canada on a surfing safari, and had planned to arrive in Guadalajara on November 20, but did not get there.

It is feared that the two men became victims of a criminal gang when driving through the Sinaloa region, which is notorious for murders, violent robberies and kidnappings.

On the same weekend that Lucas and Coleman disappeared, there were a reported 16 murders in 72 hours in Sinaloa, which is home to a number of drug cartels, including one associated with fugitive Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Mexico’s general co-ordinator of public safety Moises Melo Garcia has said that the period leading up to the end of the year is considered as one of “reckoning”, in which cartels are known to settle accounts and grudges. 

Speaking about the 16 murders, he said:

“Well, there are times or moments in which, unfortunately, these types of things happen. As you well know, around the end of the year situations arise, when some people come from outside the State … Or they have some prior debt that they then have to pay, and these unfortunate things happen, but we are trying to catch everything.”

Gareth Taylor, a friend of the men’s since the age of 16, made a public statement, saying:

“On behalf of the families of Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman, I would like to begin by thanking all those people involved in the search for their sons and brothers.”

“The sheer number of people that are assisting by spreading and sharing information and offering support is staggering and very much appreciated.” 

“The priority now is to establish and confirm what events have occurred and what can be done to bring closure to the families and friends of these two very much loved people.”

“As per the statement released to DFAT, the families and partners are aware the van in which they were travelling has been located by Mexican authorities and a tragic event has occurred.” 

“The families hold deep fears for the safety of their sons but stress they are still waiting for details to be confirmed.” 

“The families welcome genuine support but strongly request their privacy is respected and that Mexican authorities be allowed to conduct their investigations unhindered.”

via SBS News
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