December 15, 2015 / 5:43 AM / in 2 years

Mexico confirms burnt remains are missing Australian surfers

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican official on Monday identified charred bodies found in a camper van as two Australian surfers missing since last month in a state infamous for narcotics gangs.

A burnt van is seen on a dirt road in Juan Aldama, November 21, 2015. REUTERS/Noroeste.com/Carlos Chaidez

A burnt-out van belonging to one of the Australians was found in the northwestern state of Sinaloa in late November with two charred corpses inside. Officials ran DNA tests to identify them.

The Sinaloa state attorney general, Marco Antonio Higuera, confirmed through a spokesman that all results showed the corpses were of the missing men, Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman.

The state was still waiting for official paperwork in order to finish the process, the spokesman said.

Sinaloa officials this month arrested three men over the disappearance, but said two suspects remain at large.

Lucas and Coleman, who were in Mexico surfing, were due to travel to the western city of Guadalajara on Nov. 21 but did not arrive, according to a message posted on social media site Facebook.

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.

It was unclear why the two men had strayed off course, or why they would be targeted.

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

Reporting by Anna Yukhananov and Jean Luis Arce; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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