3 Women Missing After Traveling From Texas to Mexico

By Sol Prendido

From left, Maritza Rios, Marina Rios, and Dora Saenz.Courtesy of Penitas Police Department

Peñitas Police Chief Roel Bermea said their families have been in touch with Mexican authorities, who are investigating their disappearance.

Two sisters from Texas and a friend are missing in Mexico after they crossed the border last month to sell clothes at a flea market, U.S. authorities said Friday.

Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios, 47; Marina Perez Rios, 48; and their friend, Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz, 53, 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 where the sisters are from in Peñitas, a small border city in Texas near McAllen.

Very few details have been released. The FBI said it is “unable to provide comment on this ongoing investigation” and “relentlessly pursues all options when it comes to protecting the American people, and this doesn’t change when they are endangered across the border.”

The fate of the three women, who haven’t been heard from in about two weeks, remains a mystery and has garnered relatively little publicity.

Peñitas Police Chief Roel Bermea said their families have been in touch with Mexican authorities, who are investigating their disappearance.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection say the three women crossed into Mexico on Feb. 24, according to Bermea. Peñitas is a few hundred feet from the Rio Grande.

The husband of one of the women spoke to her by phone while she was traveling in Mexico, the police chief said, but he 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 border. Officials at the state prosecutor’s office said they have been investigating the women’s disappearance since Monday.

Last week, four Americans on a road trip to Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, were shot and kidnapped. Two members of the group died, and two others have been returned to the U.S.

The friends had traveled to Mexico because one woman in the group was seeking a cosmetic procedure, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. The official said cartel gunmen targeted the group in a case of mistaken identity.

The Gulf cartel apologized Thursday, and five people were arrested Friday.

The government response and search for the four Americans is in contrast to efforts to locate 112,000 Mexicans missing nationwide, many of whom are being searched for only by their desperate relatives.

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