Mystery over three women missing after travelling to Mexico

In these undated photos provided by the Penitas Police Department, from left are sisters Maritza Rios, 47, and Marina Rios, 48, and their friend, Dora Saenz, 53. On Friday, March 10, 2023, authorities said the three women haven't been heard from since traveling from Texas into Mexico on Feb. 24 to sell clothes at a flea market. (Courtesy of Penitas Police Department via AP)
The missing trio, from left: Sisters Maritza Rios, 47, and Marina Rios, 48, and their friend, Dora Saenz, 53. Credit: Peñitas Police Department

US authorities say three women haven’t been heard from since they travelled from Texas into Mexico two weeks ago.

Peñitas Police Chief Roel Bermea said Friday the women crossed the border to sell clothes at a Mexican flea market on February 24.

Two of the women are sisters: 47-year-old Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios and 48-year-old Marina Perez Rios.

They were accompanied by their friend, 53-year-old Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz.

Bermea said the sisters lived in Peñitas, a small border city.

He did not know where the other woman lived.

It comes after the abduction of four Americans last week, who were accosted during a road trip to Mexico for plastic surgery.

Two were killed after were caught in a drug cartel shootout in the border city of Matamoros, and video showed them being hauled off in a pickup truck.

The two survivors were found Tuesday in a wooden shack near the Gulf coast.

A drugs cartel later appeared to claim responsibility for the deaths, issuing an apology letter.

The husband of one of the women spoke to her by phone while she was traveling in Mexico, the police chief said, but grew concerned when he couldn't reach her afterward.

“Since he couldn’t make contact over that weekend, he came in that Monday and reported it to us,” Bermea said. The three women haven’t been heard from since.

Bermea said the women were traveling in a green mid-1990s Chevy Silverado to a flea market in the city of Montemorelos, in Nuevo Leon state.

It's about a three-hour drive from the US-Mexico border. Officials at the state prosecutor’s office said they have been investigating the women’s disappearance since Monday.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know

The disappearance of the three women has received contrastingly little attention in the US, following a frenzy over the deadly kidnapping.

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.