Bodies found in Mexico in search for missing Australian surfers

Carrington Clarke
Swellnet Dispatch

Mexican authorities say three bodies have been found in an area where two Australian brothers and their American travel companion are missing.

A local government official in Ensenada, in Mexico’s north-west, told the ABC the bodies were found near a cliff on the Pacific coast on Friday morning, local time.

The bodies have not been identified.

Jake and Callum Robinson, originally from Perth, and their American friend Jack Carter Rhoad have not been heard from since April 27.

They were surfing and camping in Baja California, south of the US border, but had failed to show up at their accommodation in the city of Rosarito.

The car the three travellers had been using was found, burnt out, on a ranch in the area.

Authorities confirmed tents had also been found where the men were believed to be staying.

The Baja California coast is a popular surfing destination but is also plagued by violent drug cartels. The state contains many smuggling routes used by the cartels to get to the US, but tourist spots such as the Enseneda area are generally considered safer than other parts.

Local authorities fear the men met with foul play. But Baja California's Attorney-General, María Elena Andrade Ramírez, said they did not currently believe there was a link to organised crime.

Speaking through a translator, she told the ABC the disappearance of the men was an "atypical, exceptional case".

"We have a tourist influx and a similar case has not occurred," she said.

Three people — two brothers, and a 23-year-old woman romantically linked to one of them — were arrested earlier this week.

The woman was allegedly found with a mobile phone belonging to one of the missing Australians, local police said.

All three of the people arrested allegedly had drugs on them when they were detained. A pick-up truck belonging to one of the arrested trio had been seized, Ms Ramírez said.

"We have a substantial amount of evidence and are conducting a comprehensive investigation," Ms Ramírez told the ABC on Friday, local time.

"However, we have not uncovered any clues that could indicate their survival."

Callum, 33, is a successful lacrosse player who has played with several American teams. Jake, 30, is a doctor working in Perth, who had travelled to the US to visit his older brother.

Family and friends have been using social media to appeal for help finding the men. They said their lack of recent contact was out of character. 

Their parents Debra and Martin Robinson said on Friday they were "heading to the US/Mexico to be as close as possible to the area where they were last seen".

"Callum and Jake are beautiful human beings," they said in a statement to media.

"We love them so much and this breaks our heart.

"Our only comfort right now is that they were together doing something they passionately loved."

© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


thermalben's picture
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thermalben Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 9:48am

Such tragic news. RIP.

Optimist's picture
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Optimist Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 10:05am

They looked to be two great brothers that just wanted to hang together….tragic.
So sorry for their parents.

scrotina's picture
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scrotina Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 12:39pm

mexico had always been on my bucket list for surf trips until surfers started getting killed there by the cartels. not anymore

adsi's picture
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adsi Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 12:41pm

Mexico is my favourite country in the world but you do have to be careful. Even when you are, sometimes you're just unlucky.
We were driving back to camp from Salina Cruz at like 11pm one night (don't normally drive at night).
There was a cop on the side of the road next to a car with its doors open, looked a bit like someone had been executed. Cop was signalling for us to pull over. As my friend went to pull over i told him no way man, could be a fake cop or corrupt, floor it past them. We hauled ass back to camp and I'm sure glad we did.
I wonder if this was a robbery gone wrong. RIP fellas, least you were together and chasing the dream.

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 1:12pm

Such heartbreaking news.
Condolences to their families. Living the dream on a surf adventure and then this. Tragic.

mr mick's picture
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mr mick Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 3:54pm

Two other Aussie surfers were killed a few years back as well, although not in Baja , beg to differ on her statement of no similar case has occurred. Go back over the years I’ll bet there’s been a few. Having two sons around the same age it would break my heart if I lost them . So tragic, RIP & condolences to their mum & dad. Such a waste.

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kaybeegee Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 3:56pm

So crazy to think of the stark difference in law and order, living standards, and the value of human life, demarked by a line on a map. A war rages scant miles from havens of wealth like San Diego, yet it is a world away. The demand for drugs is not a victimless crime, and combined with the US war drugs, has utterly devastated Mexico.
RIP to these young men.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 5:04pm

Isn't it wild hey that you can drive across a border and go from the US to a joint as loose as Mexico.
This is so sad, cant imagine what their last moments were like. And knowing what's about to happen to your brother... unfathomable. RIP lad.
It is really worst nightmare kind of scenario..

mpeachy's picture
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mpeachy Monday, 6 May 2024 at 11:52am

America has its own high level of gun crime, not to mention the levels of drug addiction, but the cartel stuff in Mexico is definitely very scary

Solitude's picture
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Solitude Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 4:11pm

If it’s them this is really, really sad. Thoughts go out to their parents.

A place I’d always wanted to go. Ticked many other risky spots off, Mexico won’t make this list I’m afraid.

back beach's picture
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back beach Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 5:04pm

A terrible tragedy and condolences to family and friends. We’ve all been on surf trips and maybe experienced vulnerable moments but not to this extent.
I also despair for the Coffs surfer stabbed to death in the car park after a morning sesh. That’s incredibly hideous and close to home-our daily bread on home turf WTF

adsi's picture
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adsi Tuesday, 7 May 2024 at 8:42am

Hadn't even heard of the young fella at Coffs, that's awful. Wtf is wrong with people.

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indo-dreaming Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 5:44pm

Sad stuff, Im always grateful that Indo doesnt have the on land danger risk that much of South America has.

southernraw's picture
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southernraw Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 6:17pm

So heavy. Distant friend of mines family. Heart goes out to them all.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 9:04pm

Very Sad and story is still unfolding with a 4th body found.

Even more sad that Australia has a run of innocent beach murders / incidents...
Sure we got that Bondi Horror...Anyone up for a Surf...OMG.
Wanna forget that >
Then all easily Recall that nation stopping Cleo Beach Abduction...equally as disturbing!

Yep! Don't take long for world to claim it's equally happening here in Oz also!
Plenty in Oz newspapers report of recent Stabbings / Killings in secluded / remote beach car parks.
Reckon Aussie parents be warning their Kids to be weary of Beach Hangs...

tbb has had Car Stolen + another Broken into on quiet beaches & days!
Lose the lot...Wallets / Wetties / Tools dumped at Cemetery!
Theft from Camp Grounds and a good few Beach Gang Fights...
Reckon all here have similar stories...but it ain't improving & happens Oz wide

Possible link being these beach crimes are nearly all are off grid...just as we read here...
Note how Killers ensure their tidy up is immaculate...inhumane bastards know how cruel they are!

This research simply took as long as to type this...with searching to next & so on...
Took no time at all to compile these Oz Beach attacks...Ask! Are most are listed...hard to say that!
Only that tbb can sadly share that o'n Oz beach hangs are no place for innocents!
Also noted many similar o's killings + secluded dead end Beach Homes...not included!
Still quite a lot of Beach Gang beatings of Gays / Weak / Disabled & Sexual Assaults.
Surf Crew here must think that never changes...sad to say it don't seem too & few expose this!
Tourist resorts don't wanna alarm Visitors that Teen Gangs & murderers out number Sharks!
Only coz ya can't fit that on Town Entry Signs!

Plenty of tragedy here...just sharing a recent Gang example...all know this is bog Oz standard fear!
Oz Day Beach Gang Riots...bloody oath!

June 2023 : That spills over to 3 teens bashed & robbed by Palmy Army & so on & so on...all know!
Chix gangs pick off any Weak Links...Racial or Disabled...this be real vicious of late...Oz knows this!
Feb 2023 : Teen chix Gang of 15 attack 3 Teen Chix on Coogee Beach
March 2024 : Teen Chix gang attack Teen Girl on Altona Beach

Aug 2023 Sexual assault on 18 y'o woman Port Macquarie Beach...never stops...

Oct 2023 40y'o man stabbed in Umina Beach surf club car park

Dec 2023 Perth North Beach next level Home Invasion...another new Masked Hood thing all know!

Jan 2024 : This one starts on the Beach Road & escalated on the Christies Beach > Goes next Level..

10 April 2024 : Chick Car thief loses dog > Goes next level ... Cops chase & shoot dog on Trigg beach

13 April 2024 : Bondi Surfer wants a Surf Buddy...goes on Slashing Rampage [Censored]
Noting other recent Gang knife slashings on Bondi Beach TV.

2 May 2024 Coffs Surfer Stabbed to death

See Feature Tragedy...brings it back home...overseas & escaping these beach crimes!

Oz Beachgoers & residents at these dead end Oz hangs would be equally nervous.
Surfers have gotta be weary or have a Plan B...these off grid beach crimes are Oz wide.
World could just as easily be reading 'bout Oz Beach Crime Crisis without us knowing.

Despite Media being slow on the scene...swellnet crew are aware of ongoing beach tragedies.
The very reason you the crew & tbb are reading and reporting of this here & now.
Sure...Surf Rage in the surf on the beach...we also live and breathe this...our beloved majestic world.
If you are reading...We hear you & are equally deeply shocked & feel for your loss.
We do acknowledge & sympathize with fellow beachgoers family's of endless Beach tragedies.
We wish for your hearts to heal...we're at one with you in wanting peace on our shore!
Let's make that so!

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Saturday, 4 May 2024 at 10:25pm

Sincerest condolences to the family and friends of these boys doing nothing more than living life. It's senseless. RIP.

Tb- I never lost a beach gang fight. 100 metres was the closest they came.

Standingleft's picture
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Standingleft Sunday, 5 May 2024 at 8:12am

If it was a robbery, Aussie lads would've just handed over their phones, cash etc ??

Juliang's picture
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Juliang Sunday, 5 May 2024 at 8:48am

What a tradgedy I spent a bit of time in the Philippines , where hand guns are legal and poverty is everywhere,and it’s always in the back of your mind, that’s why they all have bessa block homes with bars on the windows and tin roofs ,they’d rather bake than have no security.Unless you’ve been hungry and in poverty for the last 20 or 30 years you don’t know how someone thinks.

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juegasiempre Sunday, 5 May 2024 at 12:26pm

I wouldn't be put off Mexico if you want to visit. Great consistent waves, great people, best food in Central America. Ideally speak a bit of Spanish or be with someone that does. I've never been to Baja but I wouldn't be going around in a relatively fancy car, not speaking Spanish in an unfamiliar location. The first thing you should do is talk to locals about what to do/not to do, where to go/where not to go and WHEN. That always kept me out of trouble and I was young and dumb. Anywhere on the Narco trail through Central America you gotta be careful.

I'd be living in Mexico if it wasn't for my young kids and I hope to in the future before I get to old to surf decently. Condolences to the parents for what seems to be a nightmare scenario.

Daarlawan's picture
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Daarlawan Sunday, 5 May 2024 at 1:03pm

Horrible thing to happen to the boys and condolences to the family but I agree, don't be put off. Central America was hands down my best experience of travelling & surfing solo. Bused around Mex for over 3 months with a dirty old board bag and backpack, probably looking half homeless. Heard a lot of heavy stories, some innocent but most involved drugs or flashing fancy material possessions around.

theblacksheep's picture
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theblacksheep Monday, 6 May 2024 at 8:36am

My bus got hijacked on the way to Puerto 20+ years ago. Taken off road into the bush, robbed at gunpoint for an hour, girls were raped. It was heavy.
What's strikes me here is the cops put out the same BS story about capturing the offenders. They rounded up some poor farmers, beat the crap out of them and made me try and identify them and some fake loot. I could tell it was a stitch up. I said no but those blokes would have been put in a dark hole and they put out a press release all was safe for tourists in Acapulco. It felt like the cops were involved actually. I got more scared of cops in the end.
Anyway Mexico is heavy. Life is cheap. Trust no one. Don't treat it like Bali and think you are invincible when you are young. Be embarrassingly cautious.
RIP boys.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Monday, 6 May 2024 at 9:02am


danielclayton1's picture
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danielclayton1 Monday, 6 May 2024 at 2:42pm

Embarrassingly cautious. Sound advice. I drove down Baja for 8 weeks in 2002 with my girlfirend when I was 22 y.o. None of this ever really entered my head. There was talk of bandidos on the road at night, and having to bribe cops for minor driving indiscretions (which we had to do a couple of times), but I never really stopped to think about it too hard, and perhaps it is sometimes better that way. That said, I'm lucky enough to still be here. I was embarrassingly naive.....RIP

Chipper's picture
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Chipper Monday, 6 May 2024 at 11:48am

blacksheep, that sounds the Mexico I've heard about... beheadings are not uncommon and the value of life is extremely cheap... i wont be doing a road trip there ever...
Poor bastards... RIP boys

Craig's picture
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Craig Monday, 6 May 2024 at 12:08pm

So so sad, always wanted to do Baja, sounds sketchy as now. RIP lads.

pjbyron's picture
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pjbyron Monday, 6 May 2024 at 12:19pm

Why would a drug cartel have any interest in these poor guys, surely not to steal a couple of $$... Maybe the victims witnessed something they shouldn't seen?

maddogmorley's picture
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maddogmorley Monday, 6 May 2024 at 12:38pm

Latest word is they confronted and resisted the crew who were trying to take their truck and were shot in the head execution style as a result :(

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Monday, 6 May 2024 at 12:25pm

Just went to a send-off yesterday for a mate and his wife who intend to drive down down Mex and Central America.
They reckon they will travel in convoys.

aussiead's picture
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aussiead Monday, 6 May 2024 at 1:43pm

Feel so bad for the family & friends, its such a tragic event and have been thinking about the situation the boys faced so much over recent days.

I also generally feel for the many welcoming and hospitable Mexicans who open their heart the first time you meet them that live in fear of these events daily, either through the news of another sensless homicide or the ongoing cartel wars where locals (and tourists) are finding much harder to avoid.

My partner & I have travelled to Baja in 2020 & mainland on 3 separate occassions, most recenty being in Nov 23 where we had a few sketchy moments that could have turned out different. It now seems your never far away from heavy issues and when moving around cannot always skirt the many illegal export routes or stay clear of criminal opportunists.
Mexico is filled with wonderful people, culture, food, surf etc.. but sadly the best parts are often off limits and the risk is becoming far greater than the reward, especially surfing and road tripping its coastline.

Finally, can only hope the Mexican people regain their country and freedoms once again and that innocent travellers like these boys can do what we enjoy so freely here in Oz.

Also heart goes out to Coffs surfer who died last week, bloody tragic. Stop the knife attacks, this is not the States.
Zero tolerance to violence of any kind, OZ does not need this shit. Lets get back to living for each other

mikehunt207's picture
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mikehunt207 Monday, 6 May 2024 at 3:26pm

Drove from San Diego all the way to the bottom of Baja and back , late 90,s . The northern part was sketchy even then, Tijuana, ensenada and rosarito all big population centres so we kept going , enpty further south , big gaps between small towns surfed a lot of good waves , camping in the desert like the nw a bit . Met some sketchy expat Americans and had an encounter with gnarly looking mexican guy at a servo while talking to us through the van window drops a baggie into our car which my friend immediately threw back to him ( maybe to get us arrested down the road, or just to sell ,not sure?) , weird encounters with federales ( police check points) , car searches and confiscation of playboy magazines and some food ( bored cops abusing power) Always cautious where we camped . Got a good dose of " montezumas revenge" (bali belly) too
Epic trip
Heard it got a lot more dangerous mid 2000,s and since
RIP fellas , condolences to all who knew them .

mpeachy's picture
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mpeachy Tuesday, 7 May 2024 at 10:05am

Got a charter bus through Mexico to Guatemala on the honeymoon and thought that was the safe option, which it was for us, but a mate went with his girlfriend and their bus got hijacked in a similar area, some other tourists killed with machetes, and my mate and his girlfriend escaped through the bushland.

Some just get unlucky, those poor fellas.

seal's picture
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seal Tuesday, 7 May 2024 at 11:04am

RIP to those poor lads and condolences to their families.
I went to Mexico 15 years ago but to the tip of Baja around Cabo. It felt reasonably safe there though I wasn't keen on travelling anywhere at night away from the tourist areas.
I did a little day trip further up the coast with some friends but you could sense the locals weren't too stoked to see us.
We were told if we wanted to go further up the coast to find the point breaks, to pay a guide to come with us (around $150 US a day) and he would carry a gun plus apparently they know who to pay off so you don't get robbed.
It was a bit too expensive for us so I didn't end up going.
I've heard others from the States say paying a guide is usually a safer option than doing it yourself and never put up a fight if you do get robbed, as they don't care too much about shooting gringos.
There's safer spots in the world to find waves but if you must go to Mexico, be cautious at all times.

peabo's picture
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peabo Tuesday, 7 May 2024 at 11:50am

Went 15 years ago. Not a surf trip as such, but did spend a week in Puerto Escondido and scored it pretty good. Never felt too unsafe in the southern parts of the country, but always tried to travel by day and on the major bus network (i.e. big buses full of people). Did take one overnight bus and two vans which used back roads rather than the main road network. Felt uneasy on those trips for sure. No fucking way I would have hired a car, let alone driven a brand new expensive American truck around the place. I have team members at work in Mexico and even they're scared of driving between the major towns themselves due to the rates of assault/robbery/car-jacking etc.

slowman's picture
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slowman Wednesday, 8 May 2024 at 5:40am

Well the parents have identified the boys, so sad, to travel all that way to confirm your worst fears. The theory is that the murderers wanted the tyres off their ute for their own car. All died with a single gun shot to their heads. See Given that I think there was only one gun, if you are ever in that situation, God forbid, the only chance is to rush the gunman, one grabs the gun parries or deflects it and the others punch the holder's head (or kick if you can) to disorient and then choke or break neck with a twist. Someone will get shot for sure but it might be the only chance someone might survive.

The residents of Ensenada held a March on Sunday carrying a surfboard with "Australia we are with you" written on it in Spanish, which is some comfort I guess. The residents are obviously sick of the lawlessness too.

I went to Rosarito Beach in 1984 with a bunch of Aussies and Californians from Orange County, even then there was a list of dos and don'ts but more related to traffic accidents (like don't have one) and watch your stuff and don't take any valuables. Nothing like the level of violence back then, went there and never saw anything ontoward and had a good time. Ice has turned the place upside down. Sounds like ice logic to me to steal the tyres and put them on their own crappy ute.

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goofyfoot Wednesday, 8 May 2024 at 6:46am

“ God forbid, the only chance is to rush the gunman, one grabs the gun parries or deflects it and the others punch the holder's head (or kick if you can) to disorient and then choke or break neck with a twist. ”

Travelling surfer to ice addicted thief - “now if you could just kneel down, relax the shoulders, engage the safety on your gun and keep still while I snap your neck please, thank you.”

I’m not making light of this horrendous situation but comments like this are amusing

peabo's picture
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peabo Wednesday, 8 May 2024 at 8:36am

Yeah, I would say a better 'only chance' would be to comply with demands and hope they don't shoot you.

slowman's picture
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slowman Wednesday, 8 May 2024 at 9:01am

I agree! What I am saying is all out or all in. If the theory that they resisted is true, then the resistance wasn't all in. And I'm also suggesting that after you have complied and turned the other cheek and it becomes clear that they are going to kill you anyway, it's time for a do or die effort. Kill or be killed - you're going to die anyway if you do nothing. The point is to have a plan like this long before it happens, you won't have time to decide what to do when it happens.

Vince Neil's picture
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Vince Neil Wednesday, 8 May 2024 at 10:41am

Absolute tragedy. Have myself travelled to the other side of the world for a family members funeral. Total shit show. You have to look pretty hard for the silver lining.

When they say tyres, i think its a translation thing and they wanted the wheels (and tires) and a bunch of other nice things they saw on their flash ute to upgrade their own. Tourist tax if you will and they weren't taking no for an answer.

Hard to recognise and avoid dangers if you aren't familiar with them...consider the number of drownings at Aussie beaches this past summer.

Travelling solo and low key is best practice, even here in Oz. You're less threatening, more likely to befriend locals and get waves.

jamie m's picture
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jamie m Wednesday, 8 May 2024 at 8:51pm

So very sad .. I think we should have a NATIONWIDE PADDLE OUT ,,,to show solidarity and support to the family .. and as surfers united .. take a stand against violence , surfers are a peace loving people .. lets do it !! Are you with me ?

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Standingleft Sunday, 12 May 2024 at 7:44am

"Live bigger, shine brighter and love harder in memory of my boys"
Deb Robinson - Mum
Live big and love hard today Swellnet crew