Alert raised for missing Australian woman after daughter, two, found wandering alone in Mexican resort

Mexican authorities have issued an alert for a missing Australian woman after her 2-year-old daughter was found wandering by herself in the resort city of Cancun.

The Associated Press reports that Tahnee Shanks, 32, was last seen on Monday in Cancun. Prosecutors for the coastal state of Quintana Roo gave no additional details on how she became separated from her daughter.

On Thursday, prosecutors also issued a missing persons report for the girl's father, Jorge Luis Aguirre Astudillo, who is a Mexican citizen. Mr Aguirre Astudillo is also 32. He was last heard from on Monday.

A GoFundMe page set up for Mr Shanks claims that Mr Aguirre Astudillo dropped the daughter off near a church in Cancun.

The girl was then taken into the care of child welfare officers.

According to Ms Shanks' Facebook page, she is from Conway Beach, Queensland, and had been trying to return to Australia. Her plans to return to the country were apparently derailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In May 2021, Ms Shanks wrote that she "can't come back to Australia till mid 2022!!! My baby girl will be 2 1/2 years old and hasn't even met her grandad, uncles, great gran, cousins."

Daniel Shanks, Ms Shanks’ brother, told Australian ABC News he had recieved strange texts from her before she disappeared.

He claims she said she was on a short trip to a little fishing village, and that she was getting bad reception and could not speak for much longer. He does not believe he was talking to his sister.

“I’m assuming I was talking to him [Mr Astudillo],” he said.

According to Mr Shanks, the couple had been estranged. He is offering a $5,000 reward for his sister’s safe return.

Though there has been no reported criminal activity tied to the couple's disappearance, the state of Quintana Roo — home to many of Mexico's most famous resort cities and towns — has seen an influx in visible gang activity and violence in the last year.

In October, an Indian-born travel blogger from California and a German tourist were killed during a gang shootout at a restaurant in Cancun. A month later two suspected drug dealers were killed after a shooting at a Hyatt hotel in the city.

Two Canadian tourists were killed during a gang shooting in January, and a month later the manager of a beach club was murdered at his office by hitmen who traveled by motorboat.

While gang activity and violence have long been a reality of residents of the sea-side state, the more recent attacks are more brazen and have begun affecting foreigners vacationing in the area, drawing more international attention.

The violence is believed to be tied to rival drug dealing gangs — fueled largely by the arrival of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel to the region — fighting to control territory in the lucrative tourist destination.