Los Angeles [AAP]
Mexican prosecutors believe Australian surfer Adam Coleman was shot in the face by a gang of highway bandits who then drove him and his mate Dean Lucas to a deserted area and torched their van.
Mr Coleman and Mr Lucas, 33-year-olds from Perth on a Mexican surfing adventure, were allegedly stopped by the robbers after midnight on November 21.
The bandits were dressed in police uniforms and in the early hours staked out an area of the Benito Juarez Highway in Sinaloa state, a region infamous for drug cartels and violence.
The dreadlocked Mr Coleman was shot when he resisted the gang, but remained alive, while Mr Lucas was unharmed, authorities believe.
Mexican prosecutors do not believe the badly injured Mr Coleman and the terrified Mr Lucas were handcuffed or restrained.
They were then allegedly held captive and driven off the highway and through the darkness to a dirt road in a deserted rural area near the town of Navolato.
‘One of them was severely injured,’ Guadalupe Martinez, spokesman for Sinaloa state’s attorney-general, told AAP on Monday.
‘I imagine the other one was too scared to do anything.’
When they reached the rural area the robbers allegedly shot the Australians and torched Mr Coleman’s old Chevy van, with their bodies inside.
Two bodies burnt beyond recognition were found inside. DNA testing, involving comparing DNA from the two Australians’ family members with the charred bodies, is yet to be completed.
‘It will take at least another week,’ Mr Martinez said.
Sinaloa authorities have arrested three of the alleged bandits – Julio Cesar Muniz, Martin Rogelio Muniz and Sergio Simon Benitez – and continue to pursue others.
They say the investigation is complete, with just the final arrests to be made.
‘We are looking for the person for which we have an arrest warrant and getting warrant for all the other ones,’ Mr Martinez said.
‘We have a group of officials – search officials – because the investigation is complete.
‘It is the special units to find fugitives that is working on this now.’