CULIACAN, Mexico – Three suspects have been detained in connection with the presumed killing of two Australian tourists who went missing last month, prosecutors in Mexico’s Sinaloa state said Friday.
State prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera said the three men were low-level drug dealers who were robbing motorists on a stretch of highway leading south through Navolato, Sinaloa. Higuera said two other suspected members of the robbery gang remained at large.
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The gang is alleged to have killed Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas because Coleman resisted the robbery the night of Nov. 20. The thieves allegedly shot the two Australians to death, then doused their van with gasoline and set it afire.
Two charred bodies found inside the van the next day have not yet been positively identified. Tests are continuing. But the van’s vehicle identification number matched one registered to Coleman in Canada.
Higuera said the five suspects were not part of any of the major drug cartels that operate in the area.
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They apparently stopped the van as the two Australians drove south through Sinaloa toward Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city.
Prosecutors said Coleman hit one of the thieves, and one of his accomplices then shot Coleman.
Coleman and Lucas were travelling to Guadalajara from Edmonton and failed to arrive as planned on Nov. 21. The two surfers got off a ferry from the Baja California peninsula at Topolobampo, Sinaloa, at about 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 20. The burned-out van was found Nov. 21.