The disappearance of Queensland woman Tahnee Shanks who vanished in Mexico may be linked to drug cartels, while authorities say her husband was “afraid for his life".
It’s been almost a month since the 32-year-old and her Mexican husband Jorge Luis Aguirre Astudillo, 32, were last seen leaving the resort city of Cancun.
Their case was thrown into the international spotlight when their two-year-old daughter was found wandering alone and barefoot outside a local church.
The toddler, Adelynn, has since been picked up by Ms Shanks’ family and taken back to Mackay while authorities continue their investigation.
‘Dirty dealing’ with Mexican cartels
The Attorney-General for Quintana Roo believes the couple may have been targeted by drug cartels.
“It could be just retaliation from the criminal groups that he [Mr Astudillo] was involved with,” Oscar Montes de Oca Rosales told Nine’s 60 Minutes.
He’s suggested that the missing man could be a cartel member and that the pair’s disappearance could be “payback for Jorge’s dirty dealing”.
The family of three were last seen on May 2.
A CCTV camera captured their car, a white Toyota Tundra, leaving Cancun at around 11.30am.
But after almost 20 kilometres, the car was spotted doing a U-turn and heading back towards the city, before taking a detour off the highway.
The vehicle was later found in the town of Puerto Morelos, burnt out with the number plates removed and serial numbers ground off.
“What I can say is, well maybe they were being followed and that’s why they turned around and took the secondary road,” Mr Montes de Oca Rosales said.
“He [Mr Astudillo] had been threatened before and he even had hired a bodyguard.”
“He was afraid for his life.”
Tahnee Shanks a possible victim of domestic violence
Another theory that investigators are looking into is that Ms Shanks was a victim of domestic violence.
It’s now been revealed that six months ago, Ms Shanks found out that her husband was having an affair and was planning to move back to Australia with her daughter in June.
“She found out he was into some shady stuff, she didn’t say what, but it scared her enough to want to come home,” Ms Shanks' friend Nikita Weller told 60 Minutes.
It had previously been revealed that Ms Shanks sent a startling message to another friend, concerned for her welfare.
“I know this is gunna sound weird, but keep [his] name. Jorge Luis Aguirre Astudillo! Just in case anything happens to me they can go after him,” the message said according to the Daily Mercury.
“Just in case anything happens to me. Make sure you tell them he’s a criminal.”
Authorities say they are continuing to review videos and the chronology of events as they try to piece together what happened to the family.
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