Torched van of Australian surfers missing in Mexico found

In this Nov. 21, 2015 photo, Mexican authorities inspect a burnt out van suspected to belong to a couple of Australian tourists missing for more than a week, in Sinaloa, Mexico.

AP Photo

MEXICO CITY - Friends of two Australian tourists missing for more than a week in Mexico are looking to work with authorities in determining what happened to the men following a report that their burned van may have been found with two bodies inside in the drug gang-plagued state of Sinaloa, one of the friends said Sunday.

Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman were traveling from Edmonton, Alberta, to Mexico and had been scheduled to arrive on Nov. 21 in the city of Guadalajara but failed to appear, Coleman's girlfriend, Andrea Gomez, told The Associated Press from Guadalajara.

Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman

Dean Lucas, left, and Adam Coleman, in photos taken from a GoFundMe page set up by a family friend

GoFundMe user Kaye Maytum

The families of the two men issued a statement through Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade saying they were aware of reports that the men had gone missing during a surfing trip to Mexico.

The families added that they were aware Mexican officials had located the van the men were using. The statement said "a tragic event has occurred."

In a statement posted to a GoFundMe page set up for the families by user Kaye Maytum, the family said: "They hold deep fears for the safety of their sons but stress that they are still waiting for details to be confirmed."

Officials in Sinaloa declined to comment about the matter.

Gomez initially said that she and Lucas' partner, Josie Cox, would go to the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan on Monday with items that could provide DNA for testing to see if the two bodies reportedly found inside the burned van were the Australians. Gomez said that Cox arrived in Mexico on Sunday with Lucas' dental records and that Gomez had "pieces of dreadlocks" given to her by Coleman.

"Everything points to it being them because the van matches; it had a bicycle. But nothing is confirmed yet," Gomez said.

She later said that she and Cox would go first to Mexico City to contact the Australian Embassy rather than go to Sinaloa.

A statement from the Australian foreign ministry said consular officials were working with Mexican authorities to locate the two men.

The missing Australians who were driving Cox's van had been scheduled meet Gomez in Guadalajara, she said. She said she and Cox put out an alert on social media after reporting the men missing.

Sinaloa, home of the powerful cartel led by fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, stretches down Mexico's Pacific coast and would be on the route of most road trips to Guadalajara from western Canada.

"They were hurrying to get here; that's why they were traveling at night," she said.