Mexican authorities reveal why thieves targeted, killed 3 surfers in Baja California

Mexican authorities on Sunday revealed the likely reason why thieves killed an American man and two Australian brothers on a surfing trip to Mexico

Baja California state prosecutors believe the three surfers were targeted because the thieves wanted to steal the tires from their truck, they said during a press conference, the Associated Press reports.

American Jack Carter Rhoad, 30, and Australian brothers Callum Robinson, 33, and Jake Robinson, 30, were last seen on April 27 and were reported missing after they did not show up at their accommodation last weekend. The three men were on a camping and surfing trip along a stretch of coast south of the city of Ensenada, posting idyllic photos on social media of waves and isolated beaches, before they went missing.

RELATED: 3 bodies found in search for US and Australian surfers who mysteriously vanished in Mexico

Chief state prosecutor María Elena Andrade Ramírez Andrade Ramírez described the moments of terror that ended the trip for the Robinson brothers and Rhoad.

She said the killers drove by and saw the foreigners’ pickup truck and tents, and wanted to steal their tires.

(L-R) Callum Robinson, Jake Robinson, and Jack Carter Rhoad were last seen on April 27 during a surfing trip in Baja California. Mexican authorities believe their bodies are the ones pulled from the bottom of a 50-foot well in a remote part of the Me

"The attackers drove by in their vehicle," said Andrade Ramírez. "They approached, with the intention of stealing their vehicle and taking the tires and other parts to put them on the older-model pickup they were driving.

"When they (the foreigners) came up and caught them, surely, they resisted," she said. "And these people, the assailants, took out a gun and first they killed the one who was putting up resistance against the vehicle theft, and then others came along and joined the fight to defend their property and their companion who had been attacked, and they killed them too."

The assailants then apparently burned the foreigners’ tents.

The bodies were found in a remote well about 50 feet deep in a rugged hillside area near the popular tourist town of Ensenada, about 90 minutes south of the U.S.-Mexico border. A fourth body was also recovered in the well, though that body was there longer judging by its decomposition, officials said. 

The thieves allegedly covered the well with boards. "It was literally almost impossible to find it," Andrade Ramírez said, and it took two hours to winch the bodies out of the well.


The site where the bodies were discovered near the township of Santo Tomás was near the remote seaside area where the missing men’s tents and truck were found Thursday along the coast. From their last photo posts, the trip looked perfect. But even experienced local expats are questioning whether it is safe to camp along the largely deserted coast anymore.

Dozens of mourners, surfers and demonstrators gathered in a main plaza in Ensenada, the nearest city, to voice their anger and sadness at the deaths.

"Ensenada is a mass grave," read one placard carried by protesters. "Australia, we are with you," one man scrawled on one of the half-dozen surf boards at the demonstration.

A woman held up a sign that read "They only wanted to surf — we demand safe beaches."

Baja California prosecutors had said they were questioning three people in the case, some of them because they were caught with methamphetamines. On Friday, the office said the three had been arrested on charges of a crime equivalent to kidnapping, but that was before the bodies were found. It was unclear if they might face more charges. At least one of the suspects was believed to have directly participated in the killings.

In 2015, two Australian surfers, Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas, were killed in western Sinaloa state, across the Gulf of California — also known as the Sea of Cortez — from the Baja peninsula. Authorities said they were victims of highway bandits. Three suspects were arrested in that case.

In 2022 alone, there were 66 million international visitors, including nearly 34 million U.S. tourists, according to Mexico's ministry of tourism.

The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.