It’s unclear where missing Americans were last seen in Mexico, police say

  • Penitas police say they know 3 women crossed into Tamaulipas
  • Mexican authorities and the FBI are investigating the disappearance
  • 550 Americans have gone missing in Mexico

(NewsNation) — Authorities are unsure how far into Mexico three missing women traveled before they disappeared.

Sisters Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios, 47 and Marina Perez Rios, 48, were traveling to Nuevo Leon to sell clothes at a flea market, along with their friend, Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz, 53. The women left Penitas, Texas, in a green Chevy Silverado and crossed the border before dropping off the radar.

Penitas Police Chief Roel Bermea told NewsNation one of the women’s husbands contacted police on Feb. 27 to report them missing and his department alerted the FBI the following day. He had been in phone contact with his wife but became worried when he was unable to reach her.

“He doesn’t want to talk to anybody. So he’s very distraught,” Berman said.

It’s not clear where the women were when they disappeared. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the three women crossed into Mexico on Feb. 24, a Friday, according to Bermea. Peñitas is just a few hundred feet from the Rio Grande River.

“The only thing that we know is that crossed into Tamaulipas,” Bermea said.

Bermea said he has been in contact with the FBI and Mexican authorities who are investigating, but has received little information about the missing women.

The case has received little attention when compared to the four Americans who were kidnapped in Mexico while traveling for surgery. Two of those travelers were killed and one injured after they were caught in the crossfire of cartel violence. 550 Americans are missing in Mexico, according to reports.

The massive search for the four kidnapped Americans involved squads of Mexican soldiers and National Guard troops. But for most of the 112,000 Mexicans missing nationwide, the only ones looking for them are their desperate relatives.

Authorities also lack manpower, equipment and training — things are so bad that authorities aren’t even able to identify tens of thousands of bodies that have been found.

Meanwhile, Mexican President  Andrés Manuel López Obrador asserted on Monday that his country “is safer” than the U.S. amid the fallout from last week’s high-profile kidnappings of American citizens in his country, two of whom ended up dead. 

“Mexico is safer than the United States. There is no issue with traveling safely through Mexico,” López Obrador told reporters at his daily press briefing. “That’s something the U.S. citizens also know, just like our fellow Mexicans that live in the U.S.” 

López Obrador noted that his country is a popular traveling destination for American tourists and expats, claiming that there is “a campaign against Mexico from conservative U.S. politicians that don’t want this country to keep developing for the good of the Mexican people.”

As cartel violence continues in Mexico, the State Department has travel advisories issued for 30 of Mexico’s 32 states, urging Americans to reconsider traveling to locations where violent crimes are widespread.

Bermea said if people must travel to Mexico, they need to be careful and plan ahead.

“If you’re going into a foreign country, to be safe, try to go in groups and let people know where you’re going,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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