BUENOS AIRES – Two young women who traveled from Argentina to Ecuador as tourists never returned from their trip and there is fear that they may have fallen victim to a people trafficking ring, relatives said Sunday.
Marina Menegazzo, 21, and Maria Jose Coni, 22, last contacted their families in the Argentine province of Mendoza on Feb. 22.
The two tourists were in the Ecuadorian town of Montañita on that day and planned to leave for Lima, Peru, where they were scheduled to take a flight on Feb. 25 to Santiago, Chile, before returning to Mendoza by bus.
“After a whole bunch of contacts (with different officials), they told us on Saturday that they never boarded the plane in Lima. Officially, they have not left Ecuador’s borders,” Paula Menegazzo, Marina’s sister, told the Todo Noticias channel.
The two young women are the subject of an Interpol alert in Ecuador and Peru, Menegazzo said.
The Argentine tourists were robbed at one place they stayed, did not have any cash and were thinking about hitchhiking for part of their route.
“We’re weighing the possibility that it’s people trafficking. Since they were at the beach, talking about a whole bunch of things, for us they’ve been following them closely and they knew they were going to hitchhike for one stretch, and for me that’s where they grabbed them,” Menegazzo said.